By Jessica Salmond
The Moore American
OKLAHOMA CITY — After recent tornadoes, many people are without homes and so are many pets.
The Animal Resource Center (ARC) took in the first dog only an hour after and continued to house lost animals. They are providing these pets with food, water, a clean cage and regular walks outside, thanks to the help of volunteers. Tornado victims can bring their pets in for free boarding if they are without a home or cannot keep their dog or cat with them. As of Thursday, 79 dogs and 11 cats were reunited with their owners.
More than 150 animals have been processed through the center, said Tyler Lenz, one of the center’s employees. Because of the massive amount of donations the center has received, the center is distributing them to other shelters in the area with tornado pets.
The ARC also is giving away donated pet supplies for victims of the tornadoes who have lost everything. Bags of food, treats, piles of collars and food bowls are filling the center’s indoor arena. Individuals and businesses have donated many supplies for pets and people alike.
“The amount of things that have come in are incredible ... People have been so generous,” Barbara Lewis, President of the Board of Directors at ARC, said.
Lewis said that veterinarians from all over the country have traveled to the ARC to volunteer and donate their time and skills to helping injured animals. Every animal being processed are getting micro chipped, vaccinated and neutered or spayed, and tornado victims can bring in their pets to have these procedures done for free, Lewis said.
“Now they’re just waiting on their families to come and claim them,” Lewis said.
Nearly 100 volunteers trickle through the center every day.
Paula McCoart has traveled from Grapevine, Texas, and has been at the center almost every day for two weeks, volunteering with the animals.
“I saw these dogs needed help. I love animals and I knew they needed help,” McCoart said. At home in Grapevine, she is a volunteer transport for dogs in shelter going to rescues.
“The hardest thing for me was I was here for a week and I had to leave. The hardest thing was to leave them,” she said.
McCoart said the most rewarding part of this volunteering opportunity is to witness a pet reunited with its owner.
“I try to witness every one of them,” she said.
Dogs and cats came in with eye injuries, puncture wounds, pneumonia and more. But the biggest problem now is stress and diet change, which can have negative effects on an animal’s digestive process.
“They just want to be loved,” Penny Howell, a volunteer from Del City, said. On her first day, she moved from cage to cage and held each dog for a few minutes to help them relax.
The center is still home to about 60 dogs and 40 cats.
“The cats are getting crate crazy,” Zoey Lenker said. She has been volunteering to care for the cats and kittens for two weeks. Volunteers and employees at the center are working diligently to find the owners of these lost pets, but sometimes the owners choose to relinquish their animals.
A cat came to the center with a severe head injury that required staples, but it made a full recovery. Mandy Trotter got the owner’s information from the cat’s microchip, but they would not answer her calls. She finally went to their doorstep, but they did not want their pet back. Affectionately named “Duchess” by the staff and volunteers at the center, the cat will have to be put up for adoption.
The center and other shelters can keep the animals for 30 days for owners to identify and claim. Animals who remain unclaimed after that time will be spayed and neutered.
On Wednesday, June 19, there will be an adoption event at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the rest of pets.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Facebook page has lost animal photos. The page has a photo album entitled “Look for your lost tornado pet here.”
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry also has a hotline for information about pets: (405) 837-7240.
Tornado pets are located at the Animal Resource Center, 7941 S I-35 Service Road, OKlahoma City; the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 East Robinson Street, Norman; and the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, 2811 SE 29th Street, Oklahoma City.