A lot can happen in 60 seconds.
In 60 seconds, a child can give her good old dog a hug and get a comforting lick on the face. In 60 seconds, a grandfather can teach his grandson how to use a string to play with his new kitten. In 60 seconds, a family can lose everything — homes, loved ones, beloved pets — when a massive tornado rips through their community, as it did in Joplin, Mo., on May 22.
That’s why American Humane Association is there to help.
Just back from an intense deployment to Memphis, our Red Star Animal Emergency Services™ team is now on the ground in Joplin. In partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), we have deployed 13 staff and volunteers, as well as our 82-foot, 16-wheel Rescue Rig.
After a day of travel and debriefing, the team began work Friday morning. The Animal Search and Rescue Team conducted a “grid search” to find trapped or displaced pets who may be injured or dehydrated, as temperatures in Joplin are beginning to rise. Red Star also began helping to shelter the hundred of desperate animal victims that have arrived at the Joplin Humane Society’s emergency shelter — some with scratches, deep cuts or crush injuries that require amputation. And Red Star’s presence is giving much-needed relief to the brave Joplin Humane Society staff, many of whom are experiencing devastating personal loss.
“We have been in crisis mode,” said Karen Aquino, Executive Director of the Joplin Humane Society.
But in the midst of the sadness, some incredible stories have emerged from the rubble:
- Betty, a family dog, was discovered several days after the tornado, under the rubble of her family’s home.
- Sampson, a chocolate lab, was blown out of his home in the storm and later found in a culvert and rescued.
- An elderly woman on a “missing list” was found sitting with her cat outside her wrecked house.
There have also been stories of amazing generosity. On Friday morning, a mail truck pulled up, filled to the roof with pet toys, paper towels, peanut butter and more — all donated by pet-lovers from across the nation.
“It was an amazing outpouring of kindness,” said Tracy Reis, Red Star Program Manager.
In the coming weeks, there is much work to do in Joplin, for both people and animals — and our Red Star team will be there to help. As they were for Hurricane Katrina, as they were for the floods in Memphis, as they have been for hundreds of disasters in our nation for nearly a century, Red Star will be there.