Monday, June 6, 2011

Joplin Tornado

The sign outside the Joplin Humane Society
It’s taken me a little while to sit and write this as I needed to get some rest and wanted to think about the experience before putting it on paper. I spent eight days (the Tuesday after the tornado through the following Tuesday night) working in Joplin at the temporary emergency shelter run by the ASPCA with help from HSUS and AHA.

The week was exhausting---physically, mentally and emotionally, but also exhilarating and meaningful. Most days, I worked with a group of amazing volunteers doing the intakes and RTO’s (return to owners). There were lots of tears from people who had lost everything and found their animals to people who had lost everything and hadn’t found their animals to people who lost everything and had to bring their animals in to the shelter for boarding. There were also the tears from volunteers while working with all of the above people.
Two of the warehouses used for shelter. The third one (for cats) was just past these two.
During the eight days, we took in over 800 animals (dogs, cats, chickens, birds, snakes, ferrets, turtles) and over 200 animals were claimed by their human companions. Hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers from all over the country spent time helping these animals. Many of these volunteers were driving over an hour each way to stay at a motel or were sleeping on cots at the Joplin Humane Society. These volunteers were happy to work long hours in hot and humid conditions to make sure the animals were shown the love they deserve.

Everyone who volunteered has an animal (or animals) they can tell you about; ones who touched their heart and soul. For me, he was a little dog who came in during the middle of the night. I won’t get in to the whole story here, but needless to say, he caused me a severe lack of sleep (due to getting up multiple times throughout the night), but in hindsight, the only thing I would have done differently is spend more time with him during that night.

One of the shelters...this one is for stray dogs.
We all worked long, hard days while we were volunteering, but no one seemed to think twice about doing it. The weather never really wanted to cooperate--cold and rainy one day followed by hot and humid the next. There were hiccups along the way and things that probably could have run a bit more smoothly, but this was a disaster situation and things had to come together as quickly as possible. Many of the staff from the ASPCA came in from other disasters, the tornadoes down South and the floods in the boot heel of Missouri. I met tons of amazing people (I consider many of them close friends) and helped take care of people’s cherished animal companions, for some, this companion is all they have left. I laughed and cried and worked my butt off, but I have an experience I will not soon forget. 
The intake area of the shelter.
A woman I worked with in the shelter, who has responded to many disasters and who has become a dear friend said it best: "I walk away in awe of the strength of the people of Joplin, the size of their hearts and their love for their animals. An amazing community. We are always touched by the animals, but to be brought to tears over and over again by the people of Joplin was a powerful lesson in humanity." 
A map of the actual area struck by the tornado.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Disaster Response with the ASPCA

I spent last week in the “boot heel” of Missouri helping at a temporary animal shelter being run by the ASPCA. Because of the Mississippi River floods, many people were being forced to evacuate their homes and the ASPCA opened a temporary animal shelter to help with the displaced family companions.
Pam in the cat area.

HSUS had staff and volunteers helping with the shelter as well. I was greatly impressed with how well staff from the ASPCA and HSUS worked together while helping the animals. Many of the volunteers spent their days helping to take care of the animals. We cleaned and interacted with cats, walked dogs and cleaned their kennels, took care of the pocket pets (rabbits and guinea pigs), and helped to take care of the horses and goat.

Judy in front of some of the supplies.

This is the coolest goat you could ever meet.

We had all sizes of dogs.

Some of the horses. Luckily, it stopped raining mid-week.

These were long, physically demanding days, but no one complained. We knew why we were there and what needed to be done. These animals needed our help and we had the responsibility to help them. Personally, I loved the work. I woke up each morning more sore than the morning before, but I knew I was doing good work, making some great, new friends and helping out animals and people in need.

My thoughts continue to be drawn to the people and animals still there and I hope they will be able to soon find their way back home.    

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kitten Season is Here

It’s getting warmer outside, the days are getting longer and you all know what that means…It’s kitten season! Area shelters and NMHPKC have already started seeing the kittens come through our doors. Last week, NMHPKC pulled eight kittens from Halfway Home to put in foster. This is only the beginning, but here on some tips to help make it through the season:
1)      If come across kittens without a mom, don’t handle them! Back away from the area and keep an eye to see if mom is just off finding food, hiding from you or is just out of sight for the moment. You’ll want to watch for a couple of hours to see if she comes back. It is very important for young kittens to receive their mom’s milk during the first few weeks of life.
2)      If mom doesn’t return, you need to decide if the kittens are young enough to bring in or if they need to be trapped/neutered/returned.
3)      If they are young enough to bring in, you should gather them in a kennel to start taking care of them. If they are not weaned (younger than 5-6 weeks) they will need to be bottle-fed. If you aren’t sure what you are doing, please contact us at 816-333-PETS and we will be able to help!
4)      If the mother does come back, try to judge to see if she is friendly. If she is, you can bring the whole family inside while the babies are nursing. If she is not, you can set up shelter, food and water for the family. Once the kittens are weaned, they can be removed and placed in to a foster home or local No-Kill Shelter.
5)      The best thing you can do is practice TNR for all feral and free-roaming cats. We are here to help!
6)      If you want to become a foster home for cats and/or kittens, please contact us at 816-333-PETS and we will work to set you up as one. We are always looking for new foster homes…the more homes we have, the more animals we can help!
7)      If you decide to find the kittens homes on your own, please be sure to contact our spay/neuter clinic to have them altered before adoption!
Kitten season is always full of lots of adorable faces and wonderful stories, but is also a lot of work. By putting in some hard work and having a little fun, we can come though another kitten season together.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Aidan is looking for a loving home
Aidan was picked up by the HERO program late last week. He had been abandoned in a house in KCK when the owner just up and left. No one is sure how long Aidan and his siblings (who were not seen or trapped) were left before anyone noticed the house had been abandoned. The first call HERO received described a house full of debris and at least one dead cat and many dead hamsters in cages. When we arrived, the house had been partially cleaned and there were no dead animals to be seen. Whatever had actually happened, Aidan had been left in bad place.
Aidan was pretty wild when he first came in (he had to be trapped before anyone could get close to him). He had surgery last week and went home with a wonderful NMHPKC staff person for the weekend. She reports that he got along very well with her cats and dog and seems to really be a people cat. All he wanted to do was sit in her lap.

Aidan is available for adoption through NMHPKC until a rescue or No-Kill shelter has an opening to take him in. He is young (probably still under a year), fully vaccinated, altered, FELV negative and FIV negative. If you are interested in meeting Aidan, please contact Joe Hinkle at 913-742-7311. If you are looking to save a life and get some unconditional love in return, please look no further...Aidan is just the guy for you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

UPDATE: The Plattsburg Seven (Originally The Plattsburg Thirteen; now the Plattsburg Two)

On Tuesday, Al's Animals in Need and Kitty Cat Connection volunteered to take some of the cats in to their programs! Al has Patchy (the FIV positive girl) and Garfield (the really, really shy one) and both are doing really well! Kitty Cat Connection took Shadow, Silvertip and Sunshine (a little alliteration for you). We still have two cats, Boots and Socks, looking for home. Both of these guys are altered and could leave today (though they both may need a follow-up appointment for some minor issues they have going on).

These two guys are very loving and want nothing more than to be near people. Coming from the situation they were in, I am amazed at how resilient and trusting they are. Please contact Joe at 913-742-7311 is you are interested in foster, adopting or even just seeing if they would work out in your home!


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Plattsburg Seven (Originally The Plattsburg Thirteen)

I know things have been a little quiet on the blog lately--hopefully the posts will begin to come on a more regular basis. I wanted to let you know about a group of cats I picked up in Plattsburg, MO.

On Monday, March 21st, the HERO program responded to a call for help in Plattsburg, MO. Social services had contacted a volunteer with NMHPKC about a family who was caring for thirteen cats. The family was in over their heads and it had come to the point that they had to find homes for the cats or they were going to lose their children.

The neighbors had been abusing these cats, shooting some with pellet guns, and the cats were in danger if they stayed where they were. We brought back nine on Monday and set them up at NMHPKC. We returned Tuesday morning to get the other four cats who we were unable to get on Monday.

Luckily, many of the cats are incredibly social, but a few had some issues that needed to be corrected. Boots has a large neck wound that had been untreated for quite some time, Socks had been shot in the eye with a pellet gun, Shadow has ears issues probably caused by untreated ear mites and Samantha has a deformed leg caused by a broken femur that had fused improperly. All of these cats were immediately seen by our vet staff and are on the road to recovery.

All of the cats, minus Boots who also had a URI and a heart murmur, were spayed/neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas and dewormed. Luckily, Wayside Waifs was able to take four of the cats on Monday, March 28th. On Thursday, March 31st, a volunteer has taken another one in to her home to see if he will work with her four-legged family. Today, she filled out the forms and adopted him! A woman who saw the cats on Facebook fell in love with Samantha and has taken her to her vet for X-rays and is now fostering her until the day when the vet is going to try to fix Samantha’s leg.

This leaves seven cats who currently call NMHPKC home. We are looking for foster homes or adoptive families for these seven cats. We have had an outpouring of support from volunteers who come in twice a day to help clean their kennels and give them some much needed TLC. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in fostering or adopting one of these cats, please contact Joe Hinkle and he will be able to set up a time for you to meet them. These cats have had a rough life and are looking for homes where they can be part of a family and get the love they deserve.
Boots-He is the only cat not currently altered as he had 
a neck wound, URI and heart murmur when he came in.
He will be altered this week and is a very loving cat! 
Garfield-He is, by far, the most timid of all the cats. He is
having a harder time adjusting, but should do well in a home 
that is patient, loving and willing to go slow with him. 
Patchy-She is a very sweet girl, but is FIV positive. She
is a very sweet cat and is just looking for a loving home. 
 Shadow-Don't let this guys ears fool you; he is one
super-sweet man! He wants to be near people and will
end up being a great lap cat!
Socks-He started out being a bit timid, probably from being
shot in the eye with a pellet gun. His eye is looking a lot
better and he is really starting to come out of his shell. 
Silvertip-She is very outgoing and inquisitive. She would 
love to find a home where she can explore and search
and play to her hearts content! 
Sunshine--She is a little shy, but is coming around more and more
each day. He would do well in a patient home, but with a
little love and tenderness, he is going to be a loving, friendly cat!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Transport Days Are Always Fun

Today was a transport day at No More Homeless Pets KC. We picked up animals from the Leavenworth County Humane Society and brought them to NMHPKC for surgery. Thirty one animals were transported today and will be returned tomorrow morning. All of these dogs and cats come to us for spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations. These days are always busy (as they are just now finishing with surgery at 5:00pm), but we all know how very important they are to the communities we help serve! 
The transports

This transport was mostly cats

 Some of the cats after surgery

 More of the cats after surgery

 The feral traps are prepared and awaiting the cats

The dogs after surgery

Mattie, wrapped in her purple frilly blanket, slowly waking up after surgery

This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.  ~George Bernard Shaw