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Monday, July 14, 2014

Lost pets wait to be claimed

BY DIANE MCCARTNEY
The Wichita Eagle

While more than half of the dogs and cats found after the Greensburg tornado have been reunited with their owners, some are still waiting to be identified and taken home.

"I have a few concerns with house dogs that no one has even asked about yet," said Lance Noakes, executive director of the Pratt County Humane Society.

They include dogs like "Survivor," a female miniature schnauzer that Noakes said is "too perfect not to have an owner."

The dog is well-behaved, crate-trained and "just had a haircut," Noakes said, and no one has come looking for her.

Are the owners in the hospital? "Have they passed away and we just don't know? Are they out of town?" Noakes asked. "We haven't had anybody yet looking for a full-blooded schnauzer, so we know something's wrong somewhere."

Of the more than 200 animals found in and around Greensburg since the tornado hit on May 4, about 35 dogs and more than 55 cats are still waiting to be claimed, said Alice Bailey, manager of the Pratt County Humane Society.

A story in Friday's Eagle that said all but 10 pets had been reunited with their owners was incorrect, Bailey said.

The unclaimed dogs and cats are being kept at what Noakes called "Doggie Central" -- at the Kansas Department of Transportation building in Greensburg.

"We're trying to keep them centralized, in one location," he said, so "as people come to town looking for their stuff, they can look for their dogs."

Bailey said a few injured dogs and cats were still showing up Friday, some brought in by their owners for a check by the veterinarians on site.

"We're just excited that people are cleaning through the rubble and finding their live animals underneath it all," she said.

Unfortunately, Bailey said, she had not heard anything about the black Labrador that was found under rubble near the Big Well on Thursday, six days after the tornado. A story in the Eagle Friday said the dog appeared slightly injured, but had eluded rescuers.

Most dogs and cats came through the tornado "in amazingly good condition," said Bill Skaer, a Wichita veterinarian who helped with animal rescue efforts in Greensburg.

Most of the injuries he saw were relatively minor, Skaer said: broken legs, lacerations and dogs with torn pads on their feet.

Although Noakes said he had no count of how many animals might have been killed in the tornado, he said he personally did not find any dead dogs or cats.

"I was sure I would come across one that wasn't alive," he said. "I never did."

It's possible more animals will be found as workers move the wreckage, he said.

People missing their pets can look for them at the KDOT building until Wednesday, when they will be moved to the Pratt County Humane Society.

Some of the unclaimed pets are already listed on the Pals Animal Rescue Web site, at www.palsrescue.org (click on Greensburg Disaster Animals), and more will be added this weekend, said Pals director Ellen Querner, who has been helping with animal rescue efforts.

Bailey said a similar listing service will be set up on Petfinder.com.

It's expected that some of the dogs and cats will have to be put up for adoption.

"A lot of these animals are not going to be reclaimed," Querner said. "If people have no place to go, they have no place to take them."

For "Survivor," the displaced miniature schnauzer, finding a new home won't be a problem, should her former owners fail to claim her.

"There's already a waiting list of people who want to take her," said Mike Hill, a volunteer at the Pratt County Humane Society. "She's a sweetheart."

HOW TO HELP

Officials at the Pratt County Humane Society said they do not need any more donations of dog food but may need cat food and cat litter. They ask that people not send anything now but call 620-672-6777 to see when the food, litter or other donations might be needed.

Monetary donations can be sent to the Pratt County Humane Society, 1402 W. First, Pratt, KS 67124.

TO GET HELP

The animals found and held in Greensburg will be moved to the Pratt County Humane Society on Wednesday and held for 30 days. If individuals are unable to pick up their animals, other boarding arrangements will be made. Call the Humane Society at 620-672-6777 for details.

Greensburg residents can get free dog and cat food by calling 620-723-2897.

Reach Diane McCartney at 316-268-6593 or dmccartney@wichitaeagle.com.

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