CHAMPAIGN — It wasn't only humans devastated by the tornado that tore through Joplin, Mo., almost two weeks ago. Scores of companion animals have also been uprooted.
Next week, at least two or three people from the Champaign-Urbana area plan to travel to Joplin, to answer an urgent call from the ASPCA for help at Joplin's animal shelter.
"The shelter in Joplin is overwhelmed and needs assistance in the wake of this disaster. We are glad to go out and lend assistance," said Susan Norris, president of CATSNAP, the Champaign Area Trap, Spay, Neuter, and Adoption program.
But Norris said workers from this area would like to go laden with supplies for the animal shelter in Joplin and is asking for donations to be dropped off this weekend.
"Any animal-related supplies or money that people would like to give, we are glad to be the carriers of these goods," said Norris.
She listed beds, animal carriers, and hydrogen peroxide, as examples but asked that items be clean and in good condition.
Donations may be dropped off at Pet Supplies Plus, 2821 W. Kirby Ave., C, next to the County Market store or at the UI Ice Arena Saturday night during the Twin City Derby Girls roller derby bout from 5 to 9 p.m. CATSNAP was selected as the charity to benefit from the game. For more information on the bout, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/174882.
Norris said the volunteers will leave no later than Tuesday.
Norris said the ASPCA has fairly stringent requirements concerning who may help, but if someone has veterinary skills and would like to go along, he or she should contact Norris through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The e-mail she received from the ASPCA in Joplin asked for any number of volunteers for any number of days. It said most volunteers would be helping with feeding, watering, cleaning, basic grooming and restocking of supplies. They will also be doing intake on pets that owners have to give up or that have been found wandering in the wake of the May 22 tragedy.
"We will be trying to make sure all of the animals that have been found have pictures and are properly cataloged so that people looking for animals have an easy way to locate them," she said.
Norris, a first-year veterinary medicine student at the University of Illinois, said she traveled to Waveland, Miss., in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, to work with displaced animals, so she has an idea of what the Joplin folks are going through. She also knows the difficult road ahead for the animals and the pet owners alike.
"We saw about half the dogs testing positive for heartworm a year later (in Katrina) because of mosquitoes," she said. "I came back with a car full of 27 cats. There were no adoptions because everyone was in FEMA trailers and they were not supposed to have animals in those."
Norris said she's not certain where the volunteers will stay.
"The ASPCA is terrific. They are making all the arrangements. That's how desperate the situation is. They have everything down to a science," she said.