A tornado that devastated a Kansas town this past Saturday night has state, county and local resources mobilized to rescue and and provide sanctuary for cats, dogs and other animals separated from their families by the chaotic and overpowering event.
An EF3 tornado struck the Eastern Kansas town of Reading on Saturday night, and that same evening Emporia Kansas shelter workers, animal control officers and the police had begun to find pets, take them to the shelter, establish which animals’ families could be identified, and arrange for backup shelter space at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, should the number of displaced pets exceed available space at the shelter.
The Kansas State Animal Response Team is also involved, working in partnership with the Emporia Veterinary Hospital, Dwayne Henrikson, Emporia Animal Control, and the Emporia Animal Shelter.
The Lyon County Fairgrounds has now been made the primary facility for recovered animals and those pets whose families are staying at the local American Red Cross shelter set up at the Emporia Senior Center, with representatives from the Kansas State Animal Response Team on site to care for the animals. Additionally, some cats are being housed at the Emporia Animal Shelter.
The Emporia Wal-Mart has already donated cat food, dog food and cat litter to help provide for rescued pets.
Shelter director Peggy Derreck is quoted in The Witchita Eagle as saying “This first few days is going to be the tip of the iceberg,” after noting of the early rescues that they “were friendly enough that they were looking for people,” and “We did have to leave some behind that were too spooked.” Ms. Derrick further expects that animal control and Sedgwick County Animal Control Response Team rescuers will have to trap some of the lost, stressed and disoriented animals.
This early effort in Kansas shows a very well coordinated and enacted disaster response in aid of animals, put into action with the same immediacy as the human displacement and physical cleanup efforts.