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June 4, 2011

Rescue Operation in Joplin, Mo. Offers Hope, Much-Needed Relief

Devastated city begins to rebuild with help from animal rescue teams

HSUS Animal Rescue Team

  • Animal rescue responders came to the aid of nearly 900 animals displaced by the storm. Bruce E. Stidham/STIDZ Media

  • Nearly 300 dogs and cats who came in to the rescue shelter after the tornado have already been reunited with their familes. Bruce E. Stidham/STIDZ Media

Joplin, Missouri

It has been two weeks since a monumental tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, and the overwhelming feelings of shock and helplessness are just beginning to fade. Hope, collaboration and rebuilding are taking root in this devastated city thanks in part to nearly 100 responders who have come to the aid of the animals displaced by the storm.

The Humane Society of the United States' Animal Rescue Team was called in by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and is working alongside various local and national groups from all over the country to care for nearly 900 animals brought to the emergency animal shelter since the tornado. 

Lysa Buehler, shelter manager for the Joplin Humane Society, has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. “This is the most organized effort I’ve ever seen, the whole thing just makes your heart sing. This rescue operation is a much-needed relief from the sadness that has affected us all.”

One man in definite need of relief was Murray Fields, whose home was destroyed in the storm. Our team has been touched by Murray’s story and dedication to his four-legged companions. After braving the storm Murray began calling out for his dogs. Murray’s calls were returned by silence and he began to lose hope of finding his pets alive. Then several good Samaritans began lifting walls off of the rubble and miraculously uncovered three of the missing dogs.

Although they were quite shaken up, Pinkie, Skunk Nose and Mitzie were unharmed and are now being cared for at the emergency animal shelter. While he is now busy rebuilding his family’s life, Murray comes by the shelter every evening to comfort and play with his dogs. Seeing these dogs cuddle into their guardian’s chest and cover him in happy kisses is the ultimate reward.

Each day more and more animals are being reunited with their families—nearly 300 dogs and cats have already gone home since the storm. The HSUS is dedicated to continuing our assistance to the people and pets of Joplin, and will be here helping until all of the animals go home.

This is the latest dispatch from HSUS staff on the ground in Joplin, Missouri.

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