It’s shocking how much can change in only a few moments: The tornadoes that recently struck Kentucky brought tragedy and devastation to communities. And while the recovery will take a long time, I am honored to be on the ground in Mayfield, Kentucky, to help save animals in need and reunite lost pets with their families.
Our rescuers rushed to the scene after we received a request for assistance from the Mayfield-Graves Animal Shelter. We are also giving monetary support to the shelter to make sure it can continue to serve animals in the community.
One such animal was a dog our team found in a backyard behind a house that had caught fire, after a concerned neighbor spotted him. This sweet individual was brought to the animal shelter to get all the love and comfort that he deserves during this traumatic time.
I joined rescuers to do field assessments and to help make deliveries of pet supplies, like cat litter and pet food, as well as bottled water to residents. It was during these errands that we spotted a small tabby cat among the debris who was clearly curious about us and seemed hungry but was also a bit afraid. The sounds of the distant chainsaws from cleanup efforts didn’t help calm him.
Thankfully, through the coordination of our team, we managed to herd (very strategically and very carefully, given how dexterous cats by nature are) the spooked little tabby until we could catch him and bring him to safety.
Back at the shelter, the scans turned up exactly what we like to see: a microchip. The shelter is currently making calls to reunite the cat with his family.
Undoubtedly, this period following the tornado is extremely difficult and chaotic for people who may have lost their homes and all their belongings, not to mention having to bear the pain of losing a beloved family member or a pet.
As we continue to survey the damage and search for surviving animals, here are some tips to help people who are missing a pet after a natural disaster strikes:
- Follow any specific guidance from your local shelter. If possible, check in-person at the shelter and file a missing pet report. Do this in surrounding communities, as well.
- Search your neighborhood, handing out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found.
- Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections and other locations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color and any specific markings.
- Try the internet. There may be a “Lost and Found” page for your community on social media platforms.
- Don’t give up. It is not unheard of for animals who have been lost for months to be reunited with their owners.
It’s moments like these that remind us how precious the human-animal bond is. Pets are truly members of the family, and we are doing all we can to ensure these precious individuals get home safely.
The tornadoes also shine a new light on how important it can be to prepare for all members of the family—human and animal—in case of disaster. Check out these tips on disaster preparedness for pets. And you can help during this disaster and future emergencies so we can be there at a moment’s notice by making a gift through the Emergency Animal Relief Fund.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.