Pet rescue 

Known for being animal lovers and founders of an animal-rescue nonprofit called MuttNation, the Lamberts arranged for out-of-state help in the pet recovery process. As a result, two mobile pet-rescue units from New York-based North Shore Animal League America and Red Star Rescue, which is an arm of American Humane Association, came to the tornado-ravaged areas of Moore and south Oklahoma City.

“We called our friends in the animal community so they could help,” Bev Lambert told Oklahoma Gazette.

“We were in action requesting help as early as the [tornado] warnings came out. Our heart goes out to those people and their pets, many who don’t know where their families are. When you lose everything, you want your family and pets.”

Lindsey Calabrese, communications manager for North Shore, said the organization’s mobile unit transported 30 dogs to New York for adoption to ease the workload on the local animal shelters and make room for displaced animals that survived the EF5 tornado.

In addition, the out-of-state pet rescue groups brought medicine and other veterinary supplies to assist their Oklahoma colleagues.

The six North Shore rescue teams spent five days in Oklahoma before returning to Port Washington, N.Y.

Work goes on
Still, the local pet care and rescue work continues as families try to reunite with their canine and feline friends.

Midwest City veterinarian Dr. Justin Brown worked with small and large animals immediately after the tornado. Since then, emergency animal shelters have been overrun with stray and displaced pets.

“All of these dogs they’re finding are being held longer than normal in hopes the animals and their families will reunite,” he said. “But we’re going to have to begin the adoption process soon in order to have room. You can only do so much.”

Credit: Shannon Cornman

Most pets with implanted microchips are back with their families, Brown said. The microchips contain critical owner contact information that allows pets and owners to be reunited.

“With microchips as inexpensive as they are, there’s no reason not to have one,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of reunions, and as soon as the family sees their pet, they are hugging and kissing on them. Some people are more worried about their pets than their belongings.”

Brown treated 20 to 30 animals affected by the tornado at his clinic on S.E. 29th but acknowledged that volunteer vets and technicians at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds emergency shelter have worked on “hundreds” of pets.

“They’re almost at capacity, so we’re reaching out to other rescue groups,” he said. “And my wife’s clinic in Meeker is almost at capacity.”

Deseree Brown, owner of Meeker Animal Hospital, reached out to help animals injured in the May 19 tornadoes that struck Shawnee, Bethel Acres and Carney.

Meanwhile, Moore veterinarian Kristi Scroggins, owner of Scroggins Animal Hospital, has been at the center of animal-rescue efforts since the Moore twister struck more than two weeks ago.

Scroggins said she expects the emergency shelter at the fairgrounds, 615 E. Robinson in Norman, will remain open at least until the end of June.

“I’m expecting we’ll get more animals each day,” she said.

A lifelong Moore resident, Scroggins felt compelled to help immediately. Scroggins and Brown were on the scene May 20 and treated a variety of injuries, including lacerations, punctured lungs and broken legs. In one extreme case, a 2-by-4 piece of wood was discovered in a horse’s neck. In other instances, horses were found buried under piles of debris in a rural area along Interstate 44 and S.W. 149th.

“We triaged the horses we could and had to euthanize the ones that were suffering,” Brown said. “It was horrifying to see what was going on.”

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Tim Farley

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