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Bringing Animals to Safety and Reuniting Pets with Owners

Field notes as The HSUS assists states impacted by severe tornadoes and floods

Animal Rescue Team

  • Inga Gibson, HSUS Hawaii State Director, holds a dog after a walk near the animal rescue compound in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday, May 14, 2011. The area was devastated by a tornado on April 27. Chuck Cook

  • An HSUS crew sets a trap at dusk in order to catch stranded cats in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday, May 14, 2011. Chuck Cook

  • Laura Bevan, HSUS Eastern Regional Office Director, with a puppy near the animal rescue compound in Tuscaloosa, Ala.. Chuck Cook

  • This young kitten got bottle feeding and other care at the Natchez, Miss., temporary shelter. Lydia Sattler/HSUS

  • We are taking in animals given up by people forced to evacuate their homes in Mississippi because of flooding. Lydia Sattler/HSUS

HSUS staff including state directors and our Animal Rescue Team are deployed in a number of rescue and sheltering operations in Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi. The team is sending updates on local animal rescue and reunification efforts.

UPDATE, May 14: An AP story has been filed from Tuscaloosa by a reporter who toured the area with our rescue crews. Read HSUS field notes from the disaster rescue effort below.

May 13, P.M.

A storm front came through Tuscaloosa in the late morning, bringing hard rain and cooler temperatures. But the sky has cleared in time for trapping! Our total intake is at 451 and reunifications are at 121. A somewhat unappreciative raccoon that was trapped was successfully released. Seven cats were taken in.

Reporter Jay Reeves rode with the team last night and came in again early this morning for trap retrieval. Read AP story.

Several dogs were sighted early this evening after the weather cleared. Our first intake was a very friendly pit bull. The night teams are heading out now. Pet supply distribution continues: 14 pallets of food were delivered to the staging area this afternoon.

LOST PET HOTLINE: A lost pet hotline has been set up in Birmingham, Ala.. Volunteers with the Greater Birmingham Humane Society are staffing the phones to take information that could help those who have lost or found animals. The number is 205-397-8534 and is available daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

May 13

A woman is on her way here to make positive identification on her last missing cat. Reunifications are now at 110—most recent the rescue of two lab/chow mixes running lose since the tornadoes—[and we are] hoping that within the hour, Miss Peggy’s Angel will be the 111th. All of the found animals are now photographed and available for viewing on www.petango.com.

Twelve animals (eleven dogs and one cat) were returned to their owners today. We are expecting animals to keep trickling out of the [Missouri] shelter, but expect approximately 125 animals to remain unclaimed. In Mississippi, we were accompanied by a local humane society worker and a boat operator into the waters of the flood area in Tunica. The water often was up to the top of the homes, with downed power lines and leaking propane tanks. We successfully saved five cats and identified five others as needing [rescue]. We were elated for each cat to be given food and fresh water. The temporary shelter in Natchez, Miss., is well set up and is now caring for 39 animals from evacuated families. Read more »

LOST PET WEBSITES: See list of found animals at Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter or visit Petango.com to see photos of found animals in area shelters

May 12

Last night's trapping team captured 11 animals in Tuscaloosa, Ala.. Two cats were reunited with their owners right out of the traps.[Two] community outreach staging area[s] closed today. The need for pet food and supplies in the community is confirmed by the steady stream of storm victims that arrive, some on foot, to receive the donations. The most notable reunification was when Tweety, the little yellow cockatiel, was picked up by his owner. In Missouri, 29 animals were returned to their families today. The Natchez emergency shelter in Mississippi now holds 37 owned animals brought there by evacuating families. About 25 residents came in today. We are extremely well received in this county. We arrived in Tunica, Miss., to help rescue cats stranded on rooftops by the flooding. Read more »

May 11

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team is focusing on night trapping in locations where many cats have been seen. One of the puppies at the primary staging area tested positive for parvovirus and we set strict cleaning and quarantine guidelines. In Missouri, we continue to assist the ASPCA in providing care for hundreds of animals. We plan to close the emergency shelters by May 17. Owners continue to return to pick up their animals after finding a safe place to stay themselves or because they have been able to return to their homes. In Mississippi, the Natchez temporary shelter is now fully staffed and equipped to handle 180 dogs and 35 cats. We are prepared to take on animals from evacuating families over the next days. Read more »

May 10

Operations continued in Tuscaloosa with reports of animals still in damaged/destroyed homes, or tethered in yards with no food and water. HSUS responders have now searched the entire length of the tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa on April 27. Night operations continue. Just across from our primary staging area is the destroyed home of an elderly woman who is looking for her two cats. We have seen her black cat for several days in a row, and saw her black and white cat for the first time last night. In Missouri, we continue to assist the ASPCA in providing care to more than 500 animals. Numerous owners have picked up their animals after finding a safe place to stay. PetsMart Charities arrived yesterday evening with donations of cages and supplies. Read more »

May 9

Search teams continued their search and rescue mission in the northeast corner of Tuscaloosa, Ala., an area hit by tornadoes on April 27. Residents and the National Guard continue to report dogs running loose. Staging areas continue to give out massive supplies of food and wire crates. We are restocking the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and the Metro Animal Services in Tuscaloosa. In Missouri, we continue to assist the ASPCA in providing care to approximately 565 animals. The situation appears to have improved in the last 12-24 hours. The city curfew has been lifted and the National Guard is demobilizing. HSUS staff and United Animal Nations will enter Natchez, Miss. starting May 9 for the flooding expected this week. We are fielding multiple supply and personnel requests for other impacted areas such as Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee. Read more »

May 6

In Tuscaloosa, Ala. we are doing house-to-house searches for animals in areas where homes are damaged but not destroyed by tornadoes. In addition to looking for animals, we are talking to people in neighborhoods, delivering pet food, and generally offering to help. We are operating three staging areas to take in animals we find, take reports of missing animals, and give out supplies. In Mississippi, we have been asked to provide temporary shelter for flooding evacuees expected to arrive in a week. We are also on notice to assist with flooding in Missouri and Tennessee.  Read more »

Please make a donation now to keep us in the field helping the animals who need us so desperately.

Read more about relief for Alabama tornado victims from May 4 »

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