Moore, Oklahoma tornado update: special moments as families are reunited with their pets

Jodee Shelper (32) picks up her lost dog at the Animal Rescue Center in the town of Moore, Oklahoma which was devastated by a tornado.Each time a family is reunited, everyone, the family and the volunteers, have tears in their eyes. It is a pretty special moment to be a part of.

I arrived at Central Oklahoma Humane Society’s temporary shelter last Friday, and the energy of the staff and volunteers was high as there was a steady flow of owners finding their pets. 

As I began getting to know all of the dogs, it was clear that they were all waiting for their families. Many of them are older dogs, housebroken, wearing collars - all of them welcome you to sit quietly with them or take them outside for a walk.

They are patiently waiting for their families to come get them.

We can’t tell them where their families are or when they will be able to take them home.

Sadly, we know that many of them don’t have a home to go back to, but we are here to provide a level of normalcy and comfort while they wait.

Dog #125 is one of those dogs.

He is an older, lab/Australian shepherd mixed breed dog. He waits patiently for his walks, but once he is outside, he seems to be searching. Not only has the person who found him stopped by to see if he went home, but so have staff members, even on their days off. We talk about whether or not he belongs to a family with children, or maybe an older person who lives alone…we just know he means the world to someone. 

Brenda Best reunited with Tinker.Dog #125 was pulled from a pile of concrete and rubble near one of the schools destroyed by the tornado.  Besides the daily drops he gets in his eyes to help him heal from the dust and debris, he is in good health. 

We hope he finds his way home soon.

After getting to know the dogs, I began scouring through reports and trying to match the dogs to the lost notices.

I found one for a tan beagle mix with white on her chest that was spayed.

As I looked through our paperwork, I didn’t see a match. But then I remembered a mixed-breed dog that matched except for the breed.

Sometimes people see different breeds when they look at a dog.

I went and looked at her again and could see the beagle in the dog that was listed as a dachshund mix.

It is a hard call to make to tell someone that you may have a dog that matches the description they provided, when there is room for error.

You don’t want to get their hopes up in case you are wrong. 

The family came in right away.

As we brought the dog out, we all knew it was a match!

“Tinker’s” eyes expressed how happy she was to see them and the family went from disbelief that she was alive to tears as they knew their family was reunited.

They showed us the photos of what was left of their house.

Tinker’s family will surely have a lot of work ahead of them as they find a new place to call home and rebuild their lives, but these challenges will be easier to overcome having their missing family member, Tinker, by their sides.

--JG

We'll post more updates from our team efforts as they come in, your support is crucial to this special work.

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters