Joplin Tornado Pet Rescue Efforts Underway: From The Missouri Humane Society to Facebook

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Pet rescue efforts began almost immediately after a stunningly destructive tornado struck Joplin Missouri on Sunday night, flattening a thousand homes and killing well over a hundred people. The Humane Society of Missouri is the chief organization taking charge of operations, with several other organizations and veterinary services contributing to the massive effort.

Tragically, many cats, dogs, birds and other pets are now separated from their homes and  families. Some have even lost family members forever. As the pets are rescued and saved many are going to a local emergency facility. We can only hope that lost and found efforts are hugely successful at reuniting these pets with their families.

Facebook pages have popped up for the various purposes of acting as lost and found bulletin boards, sharing information and links, and providing support in the face of the stunning disaster that has hit the Joplin area.

The Facebook page  Animals Lost & found from the Joplin , Mo tornado was set up very shortly after the event and is a great resource for those actually involved – those who have lost or found a cat, dog or other pet – while offering a glimpse of the actual situation to those who are concerned from afar. The page has been inundated with messages of support so now implores people to please only post lost and found messages on their wall and save other topics of assistance and support for their relevant discussion boards.

Other Facebook pages notably include Joplin Tornado Lost/Found Pets, which also seems to be a great resource on pet related efforts and topics, and  Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery which, as of this writing, had well over 140,000 “fans” or community members.

For those readers living close enough to help directly, the [email protected] is coordinating foster volunteers by name, address, phone, email, what kinds of animals can be fostered, size, how many, gender, and if you can pick up or transport.

You can Donate Cash through PayPal from the Joplin Humane Society‘s Facebook page where it will help directly. You can also donate from the JHS page. Other organizations would like your donations but when you donate to the local JHS the money goes directly to the scene.

The enormous task of seeing to the needs of pets affected by the recent disaster began shortly after the tornado hit, at the same time as human and material rescue and response efforts began. Rescuers are working from the premise that with a thousand homes destroyed they should calculate for an average of one per per household, giving them a working number of at least a thousand pets potentially separated from their families

Work started with search and rescue teams finding lost pets trapped amid the tornado’s detritus and wandering around unable to find their homes. Meanwhile others were busy setting up a large facility to take the animals to, and determining which local veterinary services may still be able to operate. Veterinarians, shelters and rescue organizations from near and far offered their help and some have come and taken dogs and cats to shelters out of the area.

With great efficiency and foresight the State of Missouri’s emergency management specialists rapidly appointed a chief organization for pet rescue operations. The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency has tapped the The Humane Society of Missouri as the state’s official go-to organization to set up and oversee pet rescue operations in the aftermath of the tornado.

The Missouri Humane Society has dispatched a 15 person disaster response team which includes trained personnel and a veterinarian to work with Joplin Animal Control and the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency to set up a temporary animal shelter on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.

Large national organizationsa re doing their part, too. The ASPCA is setting up an emergency shelter to take in animals rescued by the Humane Society of Missouri and other groups. That facility will also accept animals brought in by families who are evacuating or are in a temporary shelter themselves.

The Humans Sociery of the United States will assist beginning mid-week.  HSUS Animal Rescue Team’s director of operations, Sára Varsa, is mobilizing for arrival in the next day or two, with  a HSUS representative expected to start work on Wednesday.

A team from two Kansas City groups, Wayside Waifs and Spay/Neuter KC, was early on the scene and took 25 dogs previously available for adoption back to KC with them to make room for tornado victim rescues. Team member Sarah Little was quoted afterward as saying

“It’s hard; people are devastated. A horrible tornado went through there . Lots of lost pets. There were lots of animals and people crying … They really don’t know what to do. They really don’t.”

While donations of the usual items such as pet food, cat litter, newspapers, blankets, bleach and toys are needed and are being collected by shelters across the area, the Humane Society requests that if people want to donate to the cause that they please send money. Donations can easily be made, if you want to donate on the state rather than local level, by going to the Missouri Humane Society website’s Donation Page.

Other assisting agencies include the Springfield MO humane society, which had trucked fifty dogs out of Joplin and back to Springfield this morning, and plans to go back and forth to find and transport more animals.

This effort is just beginning but is well under way and so well organized, from the official leaders to the social media networkers, that we have great optimism that this animal welfare crisis will be managed in the best possible way.

Photos of rescued animals are from the Animals Lost & Found from the Joplin, Mo tornado Facebook page.

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