With 51 people dead and countless displaced after a massive tornado in Oklahoma, the human cost of the storm is incalculable. But we’re working to help local animal shelters mitigate the suffering of residents’ pets.
The local animal control, City of Moore Animal Shelter, has lost power; its four staff members have been working with almost no sleep to pick up the hundreds of lost pets roaming the city.
They have set up three temporary holding areas, at locations such as the county fairgrounds, where displaced dogs are being held so their owners can locate them. The shelter has not taken in any displaced cats yet, but expects to as the days go on.
Shelter Manager Vanna Conway tells us, “We lost half of our city, and it’s pouring down rain today so it’s not helping matters.” Conway herself went home at 4:30 a.m. last night and was back at work at 7 a.m. today.
On a regular day, the shelter may take in 20 dogs and 10 cats. During the last disaster, a twister that killed at least two in 1999, it took in more than 250 displaced dogs and 200 displaced cats. Shelter staff reconnected all those pets with their families or found new homes for them, and that is what they want to do again.
But this tornado has been even deadlier. “We have a lot more deaths this time, people and animals,” Conway says. Still, most of the animals she and her staff have picked up have been alive. “They’re covered in mud and insulation,” she says, “but they’re breathing.”
Many of them, however, are injured. “We have several vets that are volunteers and they are taking care of those,” Conway says. Uninjured pets are awaiting their owners at one of the three holding areas.