900 Pets Still Homeless After Joplin Tornado - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

900 Pets Still Homeless After Joplin Tornado

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - Hundreds of dogs and cats peer out from their cages at the Joplin Humane Society, some with cuts, infections and broken bones from the deadly tornado that turned their lives, like those of their owners, upside down.

Since the tornado, the Humane Society has found itself overflowing with animals, with about 900 now calling the shelter home – three times its usual inventory. One way or another, the pets became separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the May 22 twister that tore through this town, killing 153 people. In some cases, the owners – scrambling to find housing for themselves after 7,000 homes were destroyed, leaving nearly one-third of the city's 50,000 residents homeless – have simply given up their pets.

But the Joplin Humane Society is determined to find a home for every cat and dog. To that end, it plans an "Adopt-a-thon" the weekend of June 25-26, when animals that haven't been claimed by their owners will be given away free to good homes, after being spayed and neutered.

"The reality is, a lot of these people aren't in a position to come get these animals," said Joplin native Tim Rickey, a field investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "They've lost everything."

Executive director Karen Aquino said it's not that the Humane Society hasn't tried to find the owners.

"We feel we've exhausted every avenue to get the word out," Aquino said. "We've placed 250 yard signs. We have posters at food and donation distribution points, public service announcements on radio and TV, ads in the newspaper – everything we could think of to let people know their pets might be here if they're missing."

To handle the additional cats and dogs, the organization fixed up two vacant warehouses next to the shelter into air-conditioned kennels. A gravel parking lot outside a former used appliance store has been converted into an owner's waiting room, with plastic chairs and Polaroid snapshots of unnamed animals stuffed into thick three-ring binders.

Aquino said none of the pets left homeless by the tornado will be euthanized.

"If all of them aren't adopted, we'll start looking to rescue organizations and ways to get some of them to larger cities where they have a better chance at adoption," she said. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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