Small Oklahoma Town Steps Up Big For Animals, Gets Reward

A July flood required a nonprofit animal welfare organization to stretch beyond its means to save pets; help came in the form of extra hands and a surprise grant.

Posted: August 21, 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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The small city of Miami, Okla. was given a $5,000 grant for its commitment for helping animals during the flood
The American Humane Association grants $5,000 to aid in pet recovery efforts from last month's flood in Miami, Okla.
The city of Miami, Okla., has room for just 16 animals at its municipal shelter, a location that’s overcrowded and overflowing with animals during the best of weather, officials said. But when news hit that a flood was on its way, volunteers at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Society knew they needed help.

When flood waters ravaged the small Oklahoma town last month (July) hundreds evacuated the city. The disaster was exposing stray animals to toxic water, while residents leaving low-lying areas needed a place to keep their pets because many couldn’t bring their cats and dogs with them.

The nonprofit enlisted the assistance of the American Humane Association (AHA), an organization that provides disaster relief for animals. The AHA responded immediately - and made secret plans to assist in the future.

“We were aware we were going to be in deeper than we could handle,” said Jean Eslick, president of the Animal Welfare Society. “We needed help. We were very glad they were here, they taught us everything we needed to know and gave us wonderful support.”

The collaboration led to a temporary animal shelter at a covered horse arena, where approximately 200-300 animals were housed during the flood. The AHA brought veterinary supplies, food and kennels to assist. After the flood waters receded, pets were returned to their owners and almost all strays were adopted. Only a few cats remain, but they are living comfortably with foster families, Eslick said.

When AHA officials left Miami, they decided the city needed a bit more help, and plans were underway to provide it - without the knowledge of the Animal Welfare Society.

“There was obvious need for financial assistance,” said Debrah Schnackenberg, interim vice president of Animal Protection Services for the AHA. “After spending just 12 days there, we saw clear passion and commitment from the board and volunteers but the money just wasn’t there.”

The AHA surprised the nonprofit with a $5,000 grant on Aug. 13, 2007 to aid in recovery efforts. “A big part of our deployments are about recovery,” Schnackenberg explained. “The money will help in that process in Miami.”

This is the first-ever animal emergency services grant the AHA has awarded.

“I’m so amazed they did that for us, we never expected anything like that.” Eslick said. “We are most grateful. They came, they taught us and they left us feeling confident. We’ll be grateful forever, not only for their help, but also for their friendship.”

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Small Oklahoma Town Steps Up Big For Animals, Gets Reward

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Reader Comments

debby    oxford, NC

8/21/2007 9:56:41 PM

that was a good heart warming story

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

8/21/2007 10:55:47 AM

Kudos and hats off to the AHA and all the dedicated workers at the Animal Welfare Society.

Sharon    Hammond, IN

8/21/2007 5:37:35 AM

This is a great thing, so many animals are left behind or lost when mother nature comes calling.

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

8/21/2007 5:13:01 AM

I was unaware that the AHA did this much. I have heard of other groups doing this type of work, but not them. I will give donations, when possible, to them from now on. I would like to think in case of a disaster, that someone would look after my cats if I could not reach them in time and I would never leave them behind. It's nice to know there are organizations like them out there for help.

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