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Mother and Children Search for Small Lost Dog

Field notes from Joplin, Mo., tornado operation

Animal Rescue Team

  • Small miracles happen every day at the Joplin emergency animal shelter. Jordan Crump/HSUS

by Jordan Crump

Even now, weeks after the tornado, miracles are happening in Joplin.

Rachel Miller's family was hoping for their own miracle this weekend. Rachel and her two young children had visited the shelter before, searching for their brown-and-white Shih Tzu.

Puddles was so small, the storm was so ferocious, and so much time had gone by that Rachel didn't think they would find Puddles alive.

Still, she hadn't given up hope and came in to look for her pet one more time.

Can you help us create more happy endings for pets and people?

An emergency shelter this size—which has housed more than a thousand animals over the past few weeks—relies heavily on organization to run smoothly. People looking for lost pets must go through books of photos to see if their pet has been admitted. Rachel, four-year-old Katelyn, and six-year-old Alex scrutinized three books full of lost animals. After a few minutes the children's faces crumpled and Rachel quietly handed back the books. Puddles wasn't in there.

Good luck—and caring

But the shelter workers didn't give up; they knew that a group of dogs newly arrived from the veterinary clinic weren't yet in the books. As soon as Rachel entered the shelter she spied Puddles' distinctive brown-patched face. She ran to greet the wriggly, fluffy little dog.

Rachel was astonished. "Our entire house is gone—there are no walls standing. I can't believe that Puddles survived," she said. "Thank you so much for finding him. Our family is complete again."

Many more

The Miller family is one of hundreds who have come to the emergency shelter for their beloved companions. Other families who have lost everything are coming to the shelter to receive free pet food and kitty litter donated by PetSmart Charities®.  Still other Joplin residents stop by just to thank us.

In these difficult times, The Humane Society of the United States is proud to come to the aid of people and pets affected by this historic storm.

Your donation to the Animal Rescue Team will make more miracles possible.

In addition to helping care for animals at the Joplin emergency shelter, The HSUS also:

  • Helped reunite more than 400 pets with their owners in Joplin
  • Made a $5,000 grant to the tornado-damaged Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society in Springfield, Mass.
  • Helped the Yankton, S.D., police department with emergency animal sheltering after flooding hit that community
  • Continues to monitor conditions in parts of Arizona charred by wildfire as well as regions of Iowa threatened by flooding

Jordan Crump is a public information officer at The Humane Society of the United States.

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