Caring for animals during Oklahoma’s historic flooding

Shannon Walajtys | June 6 2019

Communities around the world are facing the devastating impacts of global climate change. In the past twelve months alone, IFAW has deployed to some of the worst disasters in modern history. In November, our team rushed to Northern California as the state battled its deadliest forest fire on record. One month later, a tsunami and series of earthquakes slammed the west coast of Indonesia, leaving people and animals in desperate need of our emergency care. Just weeks after, northwestern Australia experienced a deadly heatwave that decimated native wildlife populations. As our natural world struggles for stability under the pressures of rising sea levels, temperature changes, and deadly heatwaves, disasters are becoming frequent and more powerful.

Two weeks ago, a series of severe storms swept across the state of Oklahoma. Combined with high records of ice melting in the north, the storms triggered flooding that has led to a state of emergency in all seventy-seven Oklahoma counties. Dams and community infrastructures struggled under the force of the surging water. Houses were swallowed completely and people rushed to evacuate to safety. Local rescue organizations and dedicated volunteers rose to the task of rescuing animals from the dangerous flooding. But as each day passed and more animals filled the shelters, organizations were in need of greater support.

On Monday, our Disaster Response & Risk Reduction team arrived in Oklahoma to support the Humane Society of Tulsa in caring for rescued animals. When disasters strike, it’s common for families to turn to temporary animal shelters to care for their pets while they rebuild their lives. When our team arrived in Tulsa, the shelter at Expo Pavilion was already filled with dogs, cats, birds, and even a hamster. Families trust us with the wellbeing of their loved animals and we promise to provide them with the upmost care and affection during this trying time.

IFAW stands ready to respond to the many requests coming out of the Midwest during this disaster.


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Shannon Walajtys

Director – Disaster Response & Risk Reduction

It’s really about connecting with people--their history, their culture, their pride--that's how you grow the relationships between people and the animals in their community.


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