Flood-Stricken Iowa Pets Reunited with Owners

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
June 20, 2008

Nearly a hundred pets were reclaimed by their owners yesterday after a severe flood ravaged Iowa, while many more animals kept in makeshift emergency shelters wait to be reunited.

The number of pet-owner reunions at a shelter in Cedar Rapids is expected to grow in the coming days, as more victims begin assessing damage to their homes and finding temporary accommodations.

"[Owners] are now making plans for themselves and their pets, so we'll continue to see larger numbers of people reclaim their animals," said Scotlund Haisley, senior director of emergency services for the Humane Society of the United States.

Last week rescue workers from several private animal-welfare agencies, including the Humane Society, descended on the city after the Cedar River breached levees, filling streets with dark swirling water and forcing 24,000 people to evacuate.

With the water now receded, city officials estimate damages to reach U.S. $736 million.

So far, animal workers have responded to more than a thousand requests to search abandoned homes for pets left behind or missing.

Survivors are brought to the Kirkwood Community College's equestrian center, which will continue to house displaced and rescued pets for at least several more weeks, said Randy Ackman, assistant professor of animal health technologies at the college.

Veterinary technician students—as well as dozens of veterinarians from around the state—are pitching in to help care for the storm-shaken animals, he said.

Six other emergency animal shelters throughout Iowa are also housing about 350 pets displaced or rescued from the floods.

(Read about animals evacuated during last year's California wildfires.)

"Heartbreaking"

Upon arrival each animal is given a physical exam, a flea and tick preventative, and if needed, is vaccinated for rabies.

Continued on Next Page >>


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