"Lost her dog in Joplin tornado and was told to contact us for possible insight on how to locate her dog." A phone number followed.
I hesitated to pick up the phone, not sure how I could help someone 400 miles away after such a catastrophic event.
There was no name on the sticky note, so I called the number and announced who I was. The woman introduced herself, and told me her dog was missing from the aftermath of the deadly May 22nd tornado in Joplin, Missouri. This EF-5 tornado was the 8th deadliest tornado in U.S. history, the deadliest tornado in the past sixty years.
The family had already checked local shelters, and posted fliers. I asked if Hanah had been microchipped. She had not been microchipped. I hated to ask such a negative question, but I wondered about whether her dog even survived the massive tornado. How could she be certain that her dog did survive such a horrific ordeal? She was given a photo of Hanah taken after the tornado, alive. Hanah looks stunned, and possibly injured, but she looks pretty good for a survivor of such a tragedy.
This is what is left of Hanah's home...
Hanah's Mom's main concern was the possibility that rescues from several other states ranging from Minnesota to Texas had come in to assist Missouri and rescued animals that were displaced following the tornado. Unfortunately, there is no record of which rescue groups came in and which animals went where. Joplin Humane Society is posting photographs of the animals they currently have on their website: http://www.joplinhumane.org/
Dogs and cats that are both Found and still Lost, are being listed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ms_tornado_pets_2011/
Humane Society of Southwest Missouri is taking in dogs from the Joplin Shelter to aid them with the influx of homeless animals the tornodo has created. You can view their adoptable pets here: http://www.swh.org/site/dogs.cfm
My advice is to:
1. Deliver fliers with photos to police, veterinarians, shelters, rescues, media in all towns potentially involved in the "rescue efforts".
2. If you are able to, go to the shelters yourself. Do not rely on shelter staff to confirm whether your dog is there. Your description of your dog or the breed of your dog may not be interpreted well over the phone by a stranger.
3. Comb http://www.petfinder.com/ , using the zip codes of all the towns listed as possible groups who had entered Joplin offering help. Petfinder does offer search options within different radii of your location, IE 50 miles, 100 miles, All. I recommended she choose the "all" option.
4. Search for Hanah by varying the breed in the search parameters online and via telephone or other communications. Hanah is an American Bulldog. Even on the poster above, it appears as though she is listed as a Bulldog, with the word American written in small print in the corner. She looks more like a Dogo Argentino to me, especially considering her massive size, but other people may consider her a Pit Bull, Am Staff, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull, American Bulldog, Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Boxer, Great Dane, Lab mix, etc. Interpretation of breed can vary greatly among "experts".
5. Check breed specific rescues. Often multi-breed rescues will send purebred dogs to breed specific rescues, freeing up a cage for another animal in need. Again, Hanah's breed could be misidentified. So check different breed rescues.
6. If spotted in the area, post signs, use live traps, make everyone aware of her face and your contact information. IF you are going to put food down, make sure you place it in the same place. Also remember, if food is placed, and the enticement to go into a live trap is food, you may be keeping her alive, but hindering her capture.
7. Remember, that after weight loss and dehydration, an animal looks much different than she does in her healthy happy days lounging on the couch. Everything about her may look different, her face shape, body shape. Look at her identifiable markings, ie eyes, and outline of her nose pigment to help identify her in photos and in real life. This is another good reason to go identify an animal yourself if a shelter believes they may have Hanah. My husband could not recognize our cat after catching her in a live trap after she was missing for almost two months.
8. In my experience with Hurricane Katrina, after surviving out on their own, animals turn almost feral with survival instinct. She will likely resist capture. Once she is caught, and fed, her old personality should come beaming through.
9. Check Craigslist Pet listings, and Petfinder Classifieds as well. Remember your local paper Found Pets Classifieds. List her here as lost with photos if possible.
10. Wildlife cameras may capture evening movement, and help monitor areas where people are no longer residing.
11. Here is a story of a man who placed a tent at the site of his destroyed home following a Massachusetts tornado and awaited each cat's return. http://www.lifewithcats.tv/2011/06/15/tornado-destroys-home-man-camps-on-site-until-all-7-cats-safely-found/ All seven of his cats returned safely within five days. Camping via tent or camper at the site following the event, if safe, will give the pet an opportunity to return "home".
If you live in the U.S, from Canada down to Texas, please check your local petfinder listings from home. Her eyes and the outline of her pigmented nose are very distinctive characteristics that anyone can use to help identify her in photos. She is just gorgeous. See if you can find this beautiful girl and reunite her with her family.
Here are some photographs and information from the Facebook page "Bring Hanah Home"
Here is a video about Hanah:
Please share this blog. Spread the word. Post it on facebook. Send it by email. Check your local http://www.petfinder.com/ for a dog matching her description, regardless of where you live.
Hanah's family huddled together during the storm. Hanah was torn from their arms by the devastating winds. The photo of Hanah sitting on the rubble was given to the family after the tornado, proof that she survived, and the search began.
To know that your dog survived a tornado, and still not be able to hold her must be absolutely heartbreaking. Hanah wanted to go home, but her home is no longer there. Her neighborhood is no longer there. Hopefully she is in the care of a good Samaritan. The more that Hanah's photos and story are shared, the more likely the person who has Hanah will see it and be able to bring her home. Please, help Hanah find her way home by sharing her story with as many people as you can.
What if it is your SHARE button that brings Hanah home?
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