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Joplin Tornado: 944 Pets Rescued, 292 Reunited with Owners, One Found 12 Days after Tornado

Rescuers say one dog survived 12 days alone in its owners destroyed home

June 03, 2011|Emily Rittman, Paul McReynolds | Reporter, Photographer

Joplin, Mo — Rescuers in Joplin are trying to reunite hundreds of pets lost in the tornado with their owners. Agencies are using The Joplin Humane Society as a clinic for sick and injured pets. Three warehouses are being used as an emergency shelter. As of Friday afternoon, crews rescued 944 pets and reunited 292 with their owners.

Those in Joplin still searching for their pets, need to stop by the emergency shelter check-in area next to the humane society on east Emperor Lane. Agencies will ask owners to look through a book of pictures to identify their pet. If they see a picture of what they believe is their pet, they are walked back to see the pet in person to find out if it is indeed a match. "All the ones with kennels on top have been reunited,” ASPCA Southeast Director of Field Investigations & Response Anti-Cruelty Group Kathryn Destreza said pointing inside the warehouse holding cats, “There in the back you'll see our night trapping operations we are doing until Monday to try and get as many out before demolition."

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One dog gives rescuers hope there are more needing to be saved. They found the dog 12 days after the tornado struck. "We heard a bark off in the distance," ASPCA Midwest Director of Field Investigations & Response Anti-Cruelty Group Kyle Held said. Through a window, they spotted the dehydrated dog huddled under a bed with debris covering it. "Everything from the attic, to insulation, shingles and roofing," Held said.

As rescues continue, so does reuniting pets with owners. Many owners are leaving the shelter with smiles. “The reunions -- it helps recharge our batteries to see that joy that hope," Destreza said. Others enter the emergency shelter excited, only to find the dog in the picture isn't their pet -- just a look alike. "A lot of what we do beyond general care and cleaning is we pet them and play with them," Destreza said. She says its hard for many animals to adapt to shelter living. Agencies say once an animal is rescued there is one goal. "The goal here is to get the family back to the pet," Destreza said.

Agencies are still deciding when to draw the line and put all pets up for adoption. Until then they'll keep searching. "That's why we do what we do to save the one animal that couldn't be saved," Held said. Rescuers are using the rescued dog’s address to track down its owner.

Anyone in the area still missing a pet should visit the emergency animal shelter next door to the Joplin Humane Society on Emperor Lane. It's open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

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