In May of 1998, a tornado cut a path of destruction through my hometown from one end of town to the other end. Thankfully, no one was killed, but it left a lot of people and pets homeless. There’s little we can do when the weather turns dangerous except to find a safe place where we can ride it out. Unfortunately, pets caught outside or forgotten during a family’s evacuation are very much at risk. Destroyed homes not only leave people homeless, but pets as well.
Scenes of people and pets pulled out of destroyed homes remind us of why it’s important to have a plan in place before it’s needed. Everyone should know where the safest area of your home is and have a disaster kit stocked and stored in a safe place. You should have a three to seven day supply of food and water for every member of your family, including pets. In the event you need to leave your home, make sure to take pets with you because if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for pets.
Donate to Rescue Groups
Find out which animal rescue organizations have personnel in an affected area and then donate what you can to them so they have the necessary funds needed for equipment, food, shelter and emergency care. Many times, vets are already in the affected area donating their time and expertise, but money is always needed for other expenses. Animal groups like the ASPCA, American Humane Association, and Animal Rescue Corps are just some of the animal organizations that helped out during the Joplin, Missouri tornado in late May, 2011.
Share or Post on Facebook
If you are on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site, share lost or found posts or tweets with your followers. You may not think sharing a post can reunite a pet with his/her owner, but it can make a difference. Social networking sites have become one of the best ways to spread the word on shelter pets waiting to be adopted, locating lost pets, and helping to reunite tornado victims with their lost pets just by sharing a tweet or a post. It only takes one person that recognizes a dog or cat’s picture on one of the social networking sites that can lead to someone else who may know who the pet’s owner is. It’s one of the fastest ways to cover more ground and reach a large audience of pet lovers who can help spread the word.
Foster a Homeless Pet
Most animal shelters are at their limit and don’t have room for pets that find themselves lost or homeless after a storm has past. If the shelter has been damaged or destroyed, there’s a critical need for foster homes. If you live close to a disaster area, volunteer to foster a pet until the owner can be located or other arrangements can be made. A pet that has gone through a traumatic experience is more comfortable in a stable home environment than in a shelter. The last place a scared and confused dog or cat should be is locked in a cage in a shelter. Fostering a pet is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have and you will make a difference in the life of a homeless pet.
Keep Your Eyes Open
If you live in an affected area and escaped with little or no damage in your neighborhood, keep your eyes open for lost pets. A scared animal can be spooked before or after a storm hits or during an evacuation. If a pet panics and runs away, he could be hiding anywhere. Check outside buildings on your property, under porches, in garages or any other place where a frightened pet could hide. Pay attention to posters and ask your neighbors to check their property. If you notice a stray pet you haven’t seen before, call your local authorities, rescue organization or animal control officers. Helping to reunite a lost pet with a worried owner who lost everything in a storm is priceless to someone praying for their pet’s safe return.
Seeing the aftermath of a tornado leaves you in awe at the power and destruction of a storm. It only takes minutes or less to level a neighborhood and the people and pets caught in its path need all the help we can give them. It’s not always possible to go into an area damaged by a tornado and too many people can get in the way of rescue workers and cleanup. Safety issues with downed power lines and security will also make it difficult to get into a community that’s been devastated by a twister. However, we can help with donations, sharing, being watchful or volunteering our home and time for the four legged victims. Sometimes it’s the little things we do that has the biggest impact on the lives of pets and their owners.
Pets left homeless by tornadoes need our help and if you choose to donate money, make sure you research any rescue organization, whether it’s for humans or animals, before you donate if you aren’t familiar with who they are. A legitimate organization is happy to answer all of your questions. Never give money to an organization or individual who avoids questions or gives you answers you aren’t satisfied with. Disasters bring out the best and, unfortunately, the worst in people.
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