Lanna Swisher tried to keep her expectations low when she arrived at the animal shelter. It had been more than two months since she had last seen her cat. Buddy, a 3-year-old gray tabby, had been missing since the May 4 tornado leveled Greensburg.
Swisher wasn't sure she wanted to go to the adoption days this week at the Pratt Humane Society to provide new homes for dogs and cats displaced by the tornado. But her co-workers urged her to give it a shot.
When she arrived, there was her Buddy.
"The night of the storm I tried to get him to come inside but he wouldn't come in," Swisher said. "I wasn't sure he would be here. It's been so long.
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"When I saw him, all I could say is 'Wow.' "
She came to visit Buddy during her lunch break Wednesday. The cat will accompany Swisher home to her new house in Pratt on Friday.
Some stories ended happily, but other Greensburg residents didn't find their missing pets, said Debra Duncan, director of the animal facility inspection program for the Kansas Animal Health Department.
The department and the Pratt Humane Society have tried to find the owners of the displaced pets since the storm. The next best thing is to find new homes for the pets, Duncan said.
The public has until Sunday to adopt the pets from where they are temporarily housed, across the street from Pratt Community College.
The shelter started the week with 60 cats and 10 dogs. By Wednesday afternoon only two dogs remained, but there were still 54 cats.
"The dogs always go faster than the cats," Duncan said.
Dedra Brant, a Pratt Humane Society board member, said cat lovers have a wide variety of sizes, breeds and colors to choose from. Most of the cats are well-behaved house pets, she said. Some are already declawed. Free food is available for those who adopt the cats.
One of the excited new dog owners was Wichita resident Leah Pierce. She and her husband were married last month and decided to add a dog to the family. They found an older Lab mix on the Humane Society's Web site. She picked the dog up Wednesday and was thinking of calling him Hank.
"We wanted an older dog," she said. "Everyone needs a home."
Garden City resident Kelly Love stopped by on the way to Wichita to see if any of the dogs caught her children's eye. While they didn't find a pet to bring home, they were glad the dogs had been adopted so quickly.
Duncan said the significance of what the pets have been through is not lost on the people adopting them. She said several Wichita residents have made the drive to Pratt because they want to provide a good home for the animals.
Pets not adopted this week will be sent to different humane societies across Kansas, including the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita. But Brant said she hopes every pet will be adopted by Sunday.
"We don't want to traumatize the pets by moving them to another temporary place," she said. "These are lovely animals."