The recovery process seems never-ending after the terrifying tornado hit the town of Joplin, Missouri almost two weeks ago. The massive tornado struck the town with 200 mile per hour winds and spiraled out of control, damaging infrastructure and injuring people as well as their animals.
When tragedy like this strikes, everyone suffers, including our pets. It’s hard to imagine staring down a tornado after seeing films and television depicting its destructive capabilities, but can you imagine what the fear must be like for an animal who hasn’t had the exposure to understand such a devastating natural phenomenon? They can easily become overwhelmed in the high-stress environment, and in their confusion be unable to escape the wreckage. We all can imagine the pain in losing our belongings, but losing a pet is beyond tragic. “When you have a companion animal that brings you so much joy in your life and then all of a sudden not only do you not have your home and you don’t have your family photos and all these things, but you’ve lost your family pet as well.” said Rodriguez Mirwaldt of the Joplin Humane Society.
Many citizens’ lives have been turned completely upside down by this horrible event. People have lost their lives, their homes, and their belongings, and many have also lost or have been separated from their pets. Janet Hassan, a community member, shared her sorrow, “Being away from my pet on top of everything else broke my heart. I just want to find my dog so that I can start putting the pieces of my life back together.”
Fortunately, many community members around Joplin have found hundreds of trapped, injured and displaced pets and brought them to the Joplin Humane Society in hopes that the pets can be helped and returned to their parents. Although the exact tally is unclear, Missouri newspapers estimate that at least 1000 animals have been displaced from their families in the aftermath of the tornado. The Joplin Humane Society has come together to help, rescue, and find temporary housing for all of the animals that are currently separated from their families whose homes have been destroyed. Approximately 600 animals have been rescued and 120 people have been reunited with their pets, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Joplin Humane Society and compassionate community members. Helen Randall, a resident of Joplin who lost her dog during the storm, recalled her emotional reunion, “When I saw my pet sitting in the shelter she started to bark a little. I couldn’t believe they actually had her. I will never forget that.”
Volunteers are working hard to match pets to their parents, although many pets are still waiting for their parents to find them. The Joplin Humane Society has started to take pictures and label recovered pets to help parents identify their dog or cat, or for people to adopt. Victims and disaster response organizations have also looked to Facebook to reach out to community members throughout the nation, and donations and supplies continue to pour in to help these animals and their families.
However, as time goes on, the media impact will fade but these animals and their parents remain desperate and heartbroken. To see how you can contribute to their efforts, please contact the Joplin Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. To contact the Joplin Humane Society, please email@example.com or call their hotline. Anyone wishing to help can also call United Way’s 2-1-1 line or visit www.211missouri.org. Please remember, pets can’t have a voice without the community being their sole advocate.
Thank you for your support in the wake of this disaster, and recent tragedies around the world that have torn families away from their beloved animals.