Rushing Aid to Oklahoma’s First Responders

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Susie the hero dog

First responders found Susie standing guard over a deceased man after the tornado hit Moore, Okla.

We knew Oklahoma shelters would be inundated slammed with lost, injured and frightened animals when the tornado struck. We knew that staff were working without power, water or Internet, so we called them and helped them apply for desperately needed cash grants over the phone.

“I really appreciate how easy it was, and how you reached out to us,” City of Oklahoma City Animal Services Division Superintendent Catherine English told us.

The Petfinder Foundation awarded $10,000 in assistance to the Animal Services Division, the government agency tasked with being the lead local responder to the crisis.  We awarded another $5,000 to the division’s neighbor and partner in responding to the disaster, the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. We have also worked with our partners at Thundershirt and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health to rush Thundershirts and vaccines to the scene.

Working together, the two Oklahoma City organizations are caring for more than 150 displaced pets, and they have reunited more than 33 lost animals with their families, English said.

Amy Shrodes, director of outreach for the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, was particularly moved by the story of Susie, a 12-year old Schipperke-Border Collie mix. First responders found Susie standing guard over a deceased man inside a house in Moore, which was particularly devastated by the storms.

They assumed the dog was guarding her owner, and took her to an emergency shelter. They were surprised when Susie’s true owner came forward to claim her. The pair lived a half mile from where Susie was found watching over the dead man.

“It was just like a dog’s sense of protection to be by the person,” Shrodes told us.

Most of the displaced animals the organizations have taken in since the tornado struck have been dogs, English said. But as demolition efforts start, she expects more cats will come out of hiding: “Cats will be flying out of everything.”

Displaced Kitten

This displaced kitten is waiting to be reclaimed at Central Oklahoma Humane Society. If his or her family can’t be located, the kitten will be put up for adoption.

The two organizations will pool their resources to house, feed, medicate, treat and comfort all the displaced pets. Our grants will help cover staffing costs, which are skyrocketing because the agencies have been working around the clock.

English’s staff was able finally able to go home and get some sleep last night. “It’s only been two days,” she said. “It seems like nine months.”

English said the grant money and supplies the Petfinder Foundation provided will go a long way. “I’ve never experienced that kind of outreach, that kind of service level,” she added. “It’s kind of unheard of.”

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