Tornado aftermath: Chicago groups assist in Oklahoma pet rescue

As the rescue and relief work continue following devastating tornados in Oklahoma, help is on the way from Chicago-area organizations to assist with the Oklahoma pet rescue efforts. One Tail at a Time and Best Friends Pet Care are both working on relief drives and will be heading to Moore, Oklahoma to offer help. Meanwhile, the K-9 Comfort Dogs from Addison are on their way to offer support as well.

Volunteers have come in from around the country to help with pets rescued after the Oklahoma tornado.

Volunteers have come in from around the country to help with pets rescued after the Oklahoma tornado.

Hundreds of animals are expected to come through the system as the relief teams work to connect pets that are found with their families. A makeshift shelter was set up initially at the Moore Home Depot to support the Oklahoma pet rescue efforts. Around 300 animals are expected at the Central Oklahoma Humane Society and others are being sent to other shelters and rescues.

A temporary shelter has been set up at the Cleveland County Fair Grounds in Norman.  A centralized website – OKC Metro-Area Lost and Found Pets – has been established for photos and information to be posted about lost and found pets in Oklahoma. Those organizations have been overwhelmed by the influx of animals left homeless or separated from their family after the Oklahoma Tornado.

One Tail at a Time

This dog was found holding guard over his guardian who died in the tornado. A first responder has adopted the dog.

This dog was found holding guard over his guardian who died in the tornado. A first responder has adopted the dog.

One Tail at a Time has started a fund raising drive to help fund their trip and effort. They will be loading up a van with supplies that will be handed out to animal shelters surrounding Moore. They’ll be assisting with the Oklahoma pet rescue efforts once they arrive.

“This is the first time we'll be heading to help at a natural disaster site. I think in the past we have left a lot of things up to bigger, national groups thinking they have it covered or that we're not equipped to take care of it,” says Heather Owens, founder and president of the organization. “With our last Community Pet Day we've enforced the fact that we don't need a million dollar budget to be effective. We have an incredible support base of volunteers, donors, fosters and veterinarians…we can make a difference, and that was reason enough for me to know we should be there.”

The news is flooded with the image of devastated neighborhoods and flattened schools.  Some of the images that provide hope include those of people being reunited with their pets, especially of the elderly woman who found her dog in the middle of a TV interview. As more animals are found, help will be needed.

“Most shelters are struggling already, so when you add the stress of a natural disaster, they just aren't going to make it without help,” adds Owen. “Although we are comprised of many different groups, we are a community with the same goals. I know they'd be here if Chicago was struggling.”

OTAT is raising funds to pay for the trip and to also help them pull animals to bring back to Chicago after their mission. Their goal is to raise at least $5,000 to fund the trip and pay for veterinary expenses after the dogs are rescued during the Oklahoma pet rescue mission.

As rescue and relief efforts continue following the Oklahoma Tornado, rescue workers are also dealing with pets found after the storm.

As rescue and relief efforts continue following the Oklahoma Tornado, rescue workers are also dealing with pets found after the storm.

“Displaced animals are being held for 30 days at three different shelters in Oklahoma, to give them a chance to be reunited with their owners. We will be going in and rescuing dogs that were already there in order to free up kennel space.”

Along with raising funds, OTAT is working on a supply drive for the shelters and other first responders on the scene. Some of the supplies they are collecting for the trip include - collapsible wire crates, dog food, cat food, cat litter, disposable litter boxes, Accel Disinfectant, towels, hand towels, paper towels, and disposable paper food bowls.

Donations may be dropped off at Kriser’s in Lincoln Park at 2055 N.  Clybourn, Paw Naturals at 932 W. Monroe, Ruff Haus Pets at 4652 N. Rockwell, 4Legs Pet Products at 3809 N. Clark,  It’s a Paws World at 4725 N. Damen, Parker’s Natural Pet Market at 1342 E. 55th, Royal Treatment Veterinary Clinic at 4130 N Rockwell and Canine Crews at 1616 N. Washtenaw. Also the Lake Forest Kennel Club at 810 West Everett in Lake Forest - more updates will be listed online.

Donations are being accepted online and updates on drop off sites and supplies needed will also be on that site.

Best Friends Pet Care

Rescue workers continue to pull animals from flattened home in Oklahoma.

Rescue workers continue to pull animals from flattened home in Oklahoma.

Best Friends Pet Care in Prairie View is also sponsoring a supply drive and will be sponsoring a trip that will be leaving on Sunday Morning. They are coordinating with the Oklahoma Humane Society and will be staying five days to help with animals and donation distribution. Young at Heart Pet Rescue is pitching in to assist with the drive.

They are collecting the following:

  • Large dog crates for temporary holding of both dogs and cats
  • Unopened bags of dog and cat food
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Collars and leashes
  • blankets
  • bottles and jugs of water
  • basic toiletries and supplies for people
  • hand sanitizer

Donations may be dropped off through Saturday at Best Friends Pet Care, 22096 North Pet Lane in Prairie View by 5 p.m. or at Best Friends Pet Care 1628 North Elston  in Chicago IL by 3 p.m. Arlington Heights Animal Hospital at 412 West Algonquin Road is accepting donations through 11 a.m. Friday.

You may also use PayPal to send a donation earmarked for OK to info@yahpetrescue.com. They will use the funds to purchase pet food, crates, water, and toiletries with whatever funds are donated by Friday at 5 p.m.

LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs

The K-9 Comfort Dogs from Addison are also headed to Oklahoma. Zeke is checking out supplies for the ride.

The K-9 Comfort Dogs from Addison are also headed to Oklahoma. Zeke is checking out supplies for the ride.

The Lutheran Church Charities Dogs - LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs - have had a busy few months. They've offered support in Connecticut after the shootings at Sandy Hook and also lent support in Boston following the Marathon Bombing. As of Tuesday afternoon, the dogs and handlers were on their way to the area surrounding Moore to offer emotional support. Two dogs from Joplin, Missouari, a community devastated by a tornado just two years ago, will meet up with the Chicago group in Oklahoma.

Be Prepared

If you'd like to create  your own disaster prep plan for your pet, read yesterday's article for tips and information. If you're part of a group that is pitching in to help, email me your details at kathypetexam@gmail.com.

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    I'm an animal lover who has counted rescue pets as a member of my family since I was a child. As a writer and public relations specialist, I'm passionate about advocating for homeless pets and the rescues that give these pets a second chance. i also love to connect with the many pet businesses in Chicago that support animal rescue.

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