The Joplin Tornado

No matter how many stories I read or photos I see, I continue to be shocked, daily, at the destruction in Joplin, Missouri.

If you want to help, there are several good relief agencies you can donate to. Since this is a site about dogs, if you want to help the pets in Joplin, I recommend donating to the Joplin Humane Society. You can also help the society by purchasing items on an Amazon Wish list set up for just this disaster.

If you want to help any pets during any disaster, I recommend donating to the ASPCA and/or the Humane Society of the US, as both have disaster assistance programs. If you're local to Missouri, you can also donate to the Humane Society of Missouri. The ASPCA, HSUS, and Humane Society of Missouri, are all working with the Joplin Humane Society to help care for the displaced pets.

Unfortunately, as happens in these situations, rumors of nefarious deeds have surfaced about the rescue effort in Joplin. I wanted to take a moment to address the ones I've heard.

First, the animals that were at the Joplin Humane Society and that were moved to Wayside Waifs in Kansas City were homeless residents at the shelter, not displaced pets. The animals were moved so that the Joplin Humane Society could focus on helping with displaced pets.

Second, rescue organizations are not converging on Joplin to "steal" pets and take them elsewhere. There are sufficient numbers of dogs (and cats) needing homes in every part of the country, no one needs to sneak into Joplin in the dead of night in order to abscond with the pets.

There was a rumor that a Minnesota rescue had swooped down and grabbed some dogs in an out of state rescue, but the story hasn't been verified, and it doesn't make any sense. For one, the area has been closed off by police. For another, Minnesota had its own tornado hit, and its own problems. Lastly, no rescue would do such an action without coordination with local animal organizations.

I believe what happened is that discussions about tornadoes in both areas, and rescues in both areas, were conflated.

Another rumor is that if people don't pick up their pets in 14 days, they'll be destroyed. The Joplin Humane Society has already stated they will keep a pet for a pet owner as long as necessary if the owner has lost their home. However, the specialized animal rescue warehouse may only be open for the initial two weeks of the disaster. I imagine how long it's open depends on how quickly the numbers of displaced pets shrink. Once the number of pets shrinks to a size the Joplin Humane Society can manage, they'll close the warehouse and handle the rest in-house.

If dogs and cats and other pets aren't claimed over a certain period of time, then the Humane Society will have to assume they're not going to be claimed and put them up for adoption. However, that shouldn't be happening for at least a couple of weeks, perhaps even longer. Frankly, if no one has claimed a cat or a dog in a couple of weeks, sad to say, it may be because there is no one left to claim the animal. The animals can't stay in the cages forever—they need homes.

To keep up with the latest news and to volunteer, check the organization's Facebook page.

update A story in the Joplin Globe does mention the Minnesota rescue. However, it still doesn't make sense. No legitimate rescue would come into a disaster area and just remove animals. I still believe this is more rumor than fact.