Rescuing Animals in the Wake of Floods and Tornadoes

By on May 12, 2011 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team has been on the ground for more than a week helping pets and other animals affected by devastating tornadoes and flooding in the South and Midwest. Many pets have been lost or left behind in the wake of the storms. As the Mississippi River continues to crest in several states including Mississippi and Louisiana, it’s an important reminder to include your pets in disaster plans, should some misfortune ever strike.

HSUS staff are in Alabama rescuing cats and dogs from devastated neighborhoods, giving out pet food and supplies to residents, and helping to reunite pets with their families. We’re also operating emergency shelters in Missouri and Mississippi to care for hundreds of animals. Even as many people have lost their homes, the safety of their companion animals is so important to them. As one Alabama resident wrote in a posting looking for her missing cat, “I lost everything in this storm including my home but she's the only thing that mattered.”

Our rescuers in Tuscaloosa, Ala., have been catching cats using humane traps in hard-hit areas (watch the video here). First responders have seen many cats roaming through the wreckage, but the animals are understandably frightened and disoriented after the disaster. We’re primarily setting traps in locations where high numbers of cats have been seen and where residents have lost their pets. Our team has been working through the middle of the night for several days, and several cats have already been happily reunited with their families.

We also recently helped set up an expanded temporary shelter at the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter. The facility had filled up with displaced pets, so we assisted in reorganizing the space and adding kennels. We’re continuing to give out donated pet food and supplies at Alberta Baptist Church to a steady stream of storm victims.

Our team has been glad to see animals being reunited with their families or finding new homes. Just yesterday, a little yellow cockatiel named Tweety was picked up by his owner, after someone found the injured bird in the rubble of a house and brought him to our pet supply station.

Another pet, a German shepherd puppy named Spooky, was surrendered by his owner last week—but he didn’t have to go far to find a new home. A member of the National Guard who’s been helping with disaster response and relocating displaced animals decided to adopt this lucky pup.

A kitten being bottle-fed at our emergency shelter in Mississippi

Meanwhile in Missouri, we continue to work with the ASPCA, Code 3, and United Animal Nations to care for several hundred animals at a temporary shelter in Kennett, Mo. Our team has been helping with animal care, field operations, and intake of displaced pets, and the animals are receiving veterinary exams. Every day, owners are coming to pick up their animals after they find a safe place to stay or are able to return to their homes.

In Mississippi, the temporary shelter we set up in Natchez is now fully staffed and caring for several litters of kittens and other pets who’ve been dropped off at the shelter. The shelter will continue to take in pets from families as evacuations take place over the next few days. HSUS and United Animal Nations volunteers are caring for these animals, and PetSmart Charities has donated pet food, crates, and other essential supplies. HSUS staff are also rescuing stranded pets in Tunica, Miss.

When disaster strikes, helping animals is a crucial part of the response and recovery, so that people can begin to rebuild their lives with their companion animals. We’re grateful for all our volunteers and for your support that makes these rescue missions possible.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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