June 6th, 2011
Submitted by UAN volunteer Shari Neal of Marion, Iowa
|Parts of Joplin were completely destroyed.|
The fear is still palpable. The tears of loss and joy still flow. The desperate and the hopeful greet us each day at the Joplin Humane Society temporary emergency animal shelter. Change is in the air. Not the kind of change you plan for, but the kind that finds you when you least expect it. Much like the four men in blue who greeted us the minute the doors opened at the shelter this morning.
|Joplin police officers brought three
stray dogs to the shelter.
In their arms were two puppies, and on a makeshift leash was an adult dog who looked like he could be their dad. The officers told us the dogs had been hanging around the same area for a couple of days, but the people who lived there had never seen them before.
The officers continued to snuggle the babies in their arms as they told us how the adult had been guarding the pups. He had been tending to them and watching over them and keeping them close this whole time. After taking down all the pertinent information we pushed two cages together, put the pups in one and the adult in the other. “Dad” communicated with the babies through the cage bars and together they all settled down.
|The puppies snuggle together in the
safety of the emergency shelter.
It was clear that the officers did not want to say goodbye to these animals. But the city was full of people and other animals in need, so they said their reluctant goodbyes and headed back out into the disaster zone.
The most interesting part of this story is that the loving adult turned out to be neutered and could not have been the puppy’s father. He is just a kind soul who cared for them and kept them safe during their greatest time of need.
This is not the first incidence of bonding that we have seen between two animals who never knew each other before the tornado. A lactating mother cat came in as a stray with no kittens and four three-week-old kittens came in without a mother, and she welcomed the strangers when they were put together to see if she would nurse them.
My favorite story is of a Chihuahua and a Lab who were found together and brought to the shelter. They were put in separate cages near each other, as they gave every indication they were brothers. Instantly they started crying and would not stop until they had their cages pushed up next to each other, after which they stopped crying and snuggled thru the bars.
There the odd couple stayed until the Chihuahua’s owner found him. She said she had never seen the Lab before, but was so proud of her little one for being such a caretaker for the youngster. She couldn’t believe her dog had done this selfless thing and felt guilty for splitting up the new friends.
Not everyone steps up when there is a need, but many people and animals do. Many people have left their own homes and families to help this city in its greatest time of need. People have come to provide food and water, building services, shelter, security and law enforcement, counseling, basic necessities, and even animal care. I and the other UAN volunteers are proud to be among them.