(EMERGENCY ANIMAL RESCUE) Early last week, a ferocious storm system tore through Central and Southern U.S., killing at least 38 people and destroying hundreds of homes across six states.

For three days, dozens of tornadoes and widespread flooding with hurricane force winds moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest, and South.

Arkansas and Mississippi were among the hardest hit states. Northwest Little Rock witnessed a massive EF-4 tornado, with winds up to 200 mph, that remained on the ground for 42 miles, causing heavy damage to Mayflower and Vilonia.

The deadly storm also spawned at least 14 tornadoes in Mississippi, including one EF-4 tornado that ravaged the city of Louisville in Winston County.

Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama, and Tennessee were also severely impacted by the storms.

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A dog walks on a concrete slab—what is left of a house in Paron, Arkansas. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Christina Huynh
A dog walks on a concrete slab—what is left of a house—in Paron, Arkansas. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Christina Huynh

Amid tornado recovery and search and rescue efforts to ensure human safety, animal rescue operations are ongoing.

Several agencies are lending their services to help out however they can—whether by bringing in search dogs, providing food assistance and veterinary services for lost and/or injured animals, or reuniting families with their four-legged loved ones.

Constance Lambert embraces her dog after finding it alive when returning to her destroyed home in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Monday. Photo Credit: AP
Constance Lambert embraces her dog after finding him/her alive upon returning to her destroyed home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Photo Credit: AP

While many animals are being found with broken legs, lacerations, and other trauma, the Vilonia Animal Clinic has been caring for patients (claimed and unclaimed) free of charge.

According to a post on the Facebook page of Maumelle Friends of the Animals, there were “lots of animal deaths and injuries. Pets and livestock.” Maumelle Animal Services has been on the scene in both Vilonia and Mayflower to help round up animals who lost their homes on Sunday. – See more at: http://www.memphissun.com/index.php/sid/221552095/scat/ca80f72a3dd6ba88#sthash.JlcUN5My.dpuf
According to a post on the Facebook page of Maumelle Friends of the Animals, there were “lots of animal deaths and injuries. Pets and livestock.” Maumelle Animal Services has been on the scene in both Vilonia and Mayflower to help round up animals who lost their homes on Sunday. – See more at: http://www.memphissun.com/index.php/sid/221552095/scat/ca80f72a3dd6ba88#sthash.JlcUN5My.dpuf
According to a post on the Facebook page of Maumelle Friends of the Animals, there were “lots of animal deaths and injuries. Pets and livestock.” Maumelle Animal Services has been on the scene in both Vilonia and Mayflower to help round up animals who lost their homes on Sunday. – See more at: http://www.memphissun.com/index.php/sid/221552095/scat/ca80f72a3dd6ba88#sthash.JlcUN5My.dpuf
A lucky dog named Avery is loved on by his mom, Tammy Decker, at Vilonia Animal Clinic. Photo Credit: Courtney Spradlin
A lucky dog named Avery with his mom Tammy Decker at Vilonia Animal Clinic. Photo Credit: Courtney Spradlin

The clinic is partnering with the Faulkner County Humane Society (HSFC), which will pay for the clinic’s services through donations—“so owners don’t even have to think about it,” according to Melanie Gentry, practice manager for the Vilonia Animal Clinic.

“I would say 95 percent of the people coming in the clinic with animals that need help have lost everything,” Gentry said. “It’s important for them to not have to worry about this.”

However, Vilonia Animal Clinic cannot physically take in animals unless admitted to hospital and authorized by HSFC.

Gentry also said several animals separated from their families in the tornado have been reunited at the clinic.

HSFC is mainly focusing on injured animals at this point, but board member Shirley Jarman said many lost pets should continue to emerge from hiding.

“We know when things like this happen, they usually hide for several days. We think we will see more coming out,” said Jarman.

This lucky guy was reunited with his family today. Photo Credit: Maumelle Animal Clinic
This lucky guy was reunited with his family at Maumelle Animal Clinic on May 1. Photo Credit: Maumelle Animal Clinic
Volunteers looking to salvage personal items for a Saltillo, Arkansas resident hospitalized following the devastating tornado that struck the area in and around Vilonia Sunday night were greeted by a cat who came out from an overturned mobile home. Photo Credit: Cortney Spradlin
Volunteers looking to salvage personal items for a Saltillo, Arkansas resident who was hospitalized following the devastating tornado were greeted by a cat who came out from an overturned mobile home. Photo Credit: Cortney Spradlin

After the storm struck Tupelo, Mississippi, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rushed a disaster response team to assist the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society (TLHS).

According to IFAW, Donna Jarrell, TLHS Executive Director was with her team performing an emergency operation on a Boston terrier named Lulu at the time of the storm.

“As the tornado sirens went off, the team had a choice, head to the storm shelter or stay and finish Lulu’s operation. The thought of leaving her never crossed their minds, and armed with flashlights in case of a power-loss, they finished operating on her. Now, just a handful of days after the tornado, Lulu is back to her energetic and happy self, completely unfazed,” IFAW writes on its website.

Thanks to Jarrell and the TLHS’ commitment to saving our furry friends, another 184 or so survival stories have since transpired at the Humane Society.

Rescuers throughout multiple states are on site in disaster zones searching for missing pets and taking them to area locations where they can receive care and housing while they wait to be identified and reclaimed by their families.

Here at Global Animal, we believe that helping injured and displaced pets is a profound and direct way to support the people in the throws of a natural disaster. It’s not an either/or. All animal lovers can relate to what it would feel like to be reunited with a pet after a disaster.

Global Animal Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that funds emergency animal rescue worldwide, is collecting donations to disperse between the Faulkner County Humane Society (HSFC), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society (TLHS), and other key organizations to help with medical costs for injured animals, boarding and food, and reuniting lost pets with their guardians. Please consider supporting the efforts on the ground to save animals in critical peril.

Your compassion in action and support of Global Animal Foundation can help save the lives of animals in crisis.

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>Remember, April-May is the busiest time of the year for twisters, and experts predict the worst of tornado season is only half over. In the event of an emergency, being prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets.

Check out this excellent article for pet guardians on what we need to know and do—including a pet first aid checklist—to care for our furry family members in the event of an emergency

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by these deadly storms, and our appreciation and gratitude goes out to the countless volunteers who have donated their time and finances to help.

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