Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 18 - 13 Reasons Why I Kiss the Ground That Animal Rescuers Walk Upon

Most of these pictures were sent to me in an email by one of the directors at my office. I asked her if she knew which tornado this was connected to, but she didn't - she'd received the email from someone and the location was a mystery. So I've added a few other pictures to make a Tornado Animal Rescue TT, since I have an intense fear of tornadoes and because I'm a dog owner whose heart breaks when I think of lost pets wondering what the heck just happened.

1 - An average of over 1,000 tornadoes are recorded each year in the United States, while Canada gets 80 tornadoes yearly. According to Environment Canada, "Canada's 'tornado alleys' are southern Ontario, Alberta, southeastern Quebec, and a band stretching from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba through to Thunder Bay. The interior of British Columbia and western New Brunswick are also tornado zones." USA Today tells us, "Tornadoes are commonly associated with the nation's heartland – in a 10-state area stretching from Texas to Nebraska that also includes Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas, known as Tornado Alley."

2 - According to Wikipedia, "a tornado is not necessarily visible. However, the intense low pressure caused by the high wind speeds and rapid rotation usually causes water vapor in the air to condense into a visible condensation funnel. Strictly, the term tornado refers to the vortex of wind, not the condensation cloud."

3 - Tornado Archive states that "while tornadoes often cause significantly less damage than other natural disasters, such as hurricanes, they remain very dangerous in that they often strike without adequate warning. While meteorologists have shown a significant ability to predict the path of a hurricane, predicting when and where a tornado will strike is very difficult."

4 - "Anyone living in Tornado Alley is well aware of the risks of a cataclysmic storm," said Randy Covey, Humane Society of the United States director of disaster services. "Preparing now could save your pet's life."

This frightened male dog was the first rescue for a team that scooped up six animals following a tornado at an unknown date somewhere in the United States. I can only surmise that once this group was collected, the team went out to find more storm survivors.

5 - Keep Visible and Current Identification on Pets at All Times

"Take several pictures of all the animals in your household," advises The Cat Fanciers' Association. "Keep these pictures with your important insurance papers (include vaccination records, too). Be sure to include in the pictures any distinguishing marks. These pictures can help reunite you with a lost pet. Store the pictures in a resealable plastic bag in case you have to post them during rainy months."

6 - In the second rescue for this team, they found a female who was very distressed.

"The volunteers who waded into the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina's wake came in all sizes and shapes and redefined our notion of hero. Many of these unlikely champions scooped endless shovels of poop, distributed truckloads of food and clean water, and provided comfort and kindness to animals whose world had blown apart." - Pamela Crossland, Booklist, American Library Association

7 - Tip from the Rescued: Saving Animals site - "A great idea is to have a Rescue Alert sticker on the front door of your house. (note from Julia: but what if your door gets blown to Kingdom Come in a tornado...? ) You can get this for free at the ASPCA website. It alerts emergency personnel that there are animals in the house and tells the number and types. The Oregon Humane Society also offers a free pet Rescue Alert sticker on its website. Code 3 Associates has a downloadable Emergency Release Form, which allows anyone who needs to offer emergency medical care to your pet to have permission to do so. Fill it out ahead of time so you don’t have to try to remember all the information when you are in a panic."

8 - The first two rescued dogs bond quickly in the vehicle.

The looks on the faces of these dogs made me chuckle once again over the so-called debate over whether animals have feelings. "Researchers working in neurobiology and behavioral observation seem to be learning what pet lovers have known all along: animals have feelings," writes Patricia Collier at
"New evidence gathered from actually studying dogs, chimps and other animals, supports pet owners’ firm convictions that animals experience fear, jealousy, grief and love. 'Five years ago my colleagues would have thought I was off my rocker,' said biologist Marc Bekoff. 'But now scientists are finally starting to talk about animal emotions in public. It’s like they’re coming out of the closet.'

For example, recent studies show dogs excel at reading human emotional cues which enables them to be equally astute at expressing their own feelings. Samuel Gosling, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, said dogs have proven to be quite emotionally complex. He said there are four dimensions of canine personality: sociability, affection, emotional stability and competence (a word used to represent obedience and intelligence combined).

According to Gosling, these dimensions are 'remarkably similar to the four basic categories of human personality found in standard psychological tests.' Veterinary consultant, Dr. Jean Swingle Greek, said the 'news' comes as no surprise to her. 'To those of us who share our lives with animals, the surprise was not in the scientific confirmation of the emotions that we take for granted, but more in the fact the scientific community has stayed in denial this long.' "

9 - There's quite a lot of complex emotion going on here between these two dogs. While both of them have their ears low to their heads, indicating fear, the hound's eyes and mouth are showing the joy of being found and in the company of another dog. The white dog has taken on a protective one-up position which seems to comfort the hound all the more. Here are some descriptions of dog facial expressions which need a lot of mix-and-matching to accurately describe the emotions I see here and in my own dog: How to Interpret Your Dog's Body Language, Facial Expressions and Vocalizations (but it's not half-bad.)

10 - Two more hounds are picked up by the team. Look at that happy, happy, joy, joy face on the dog on the right!

There are self-directed online courses from FEMA in the US giving animal disaster preparedness. Similar courses in Canada are given by the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society's Disaster Team Training courses.

11 - The fifth animal brought aboard is a grateful cat only too pleased to join four strange dogs in the back seat of the vehicle.

"Household evacuation failure" - figures from the Animal Management in Disasters website:

"Owning pets appeared to be the most significant reason why households without children failed to evacuate. For every additional dog or cat owned, such households were nearly twice as likely to fail to evacuate compared with pet-owning households with children. In these childless households, pet owners were apparently willing to jeopardize their lives to stay with their pet(s).

Based on the high prevalence of dog and cat ownership in the US, if all pets could be evacuated from disasters, the evacuation rate of pet owning households could be increased by up to 20%. Therefore, programs intended to improve public and animal safety in disasters should encourage and facilitate pet evacuation at the time of evacuation."

12 - The cat snuggles up between the first two dogs and everyone gets chummy as the rescue vehicle continues to search through the debris left by the tornado.

Tornado pet tips from AKC :

"It is important that dog owners not let their pet out into debris fields caused by a tornado which can contain broken glass, splintered wood and exposed nails as well as chemicals that dogs can easily get into. Having sturdy dog booties will help protect their feet and pads.

If you are outside with your dog in high winds prior to an event, it is important to protect them and their eyes from flying debris.

If your home or yard has sustained any damage make sure to check the dog's bedding, toys and exterior housing for glass shards or debris which can seriously injure your pet after an event."

13 - In the top left of the picture you can see two white front paws of a calico cat as the next rescue animal to join the group.

"Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. "
- Albert Einstein


Christine d'Abo said...

Wow. I've been in areas where tornados hit and it is very scary how fast they come on you. I've always been worried about my cat when we'd have really bad/scary weather like that. She'd freak out.

Those rescuers are amazing people.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that was one awesome TT. Thank you so much for sharing that important information, and those rescuers are heroes and heroines.

Happy TT, and thanks for visiting mine!

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Great TT. It is always good to t see the amazing capacity of compassion people can have for other creatures. Thank you for sharing. Definitely true heroism.

Chelle Y. said...

Who could hurt those precious animals is beyond me?

Great list and research!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

My sister went and helped out after Katrina. She's a surgeon; she loved doing the work and helping the animals.

I have to confess, I'm not as scared of tornadoes as I used to be.

Sans Pantaloons said...

Thank you for posting this Julia. It is an excellent piece.

lillian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lillian said...

Aw! Awesome post. Makes me glad we got those chips for our three pups. You never know.

Flowerpot said...

what an amazing post - thanks Julia. As a dog and cat lover, that was very heartwarming!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Great Post (well directed compassion).
Here in Florida, the animal rescuers do an equally excellent job when hurricanes hit. On a day-to-day basis, the bird sanctuaries also do wonderful work.
Again, great Post!

Akelamalu said...

We are really lucky here that we don't really get 'tornados' as such. Our dog was absolutely terrified of thunder and lightning, I don't know how he would have coped with a tornado!

Camille Alexa said...

Someone blogged that a tornado hit Brooklyn yesterday. I didn't believe it, but I found this article which says one woman was killed.

Miss Frou Frou said...

Hi Julia had seen the story of the animal rescue before, but loved your additional information

Karina said...

AWW...what a great TT!! This was very informative, and also quite touching! I second you on the admiration for those rescuers!!

Kelly said...

Great idea for the list, Julia. And great beagle pixs! I can't wait to get mine end of September!! I promise not to put it in the way of any tornadoes.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

Great post Julia! The rescuers are so often the unsung heros.

Toni in the Midst said...

What an important TT, Julia. Thanks for posting it.

Annie Mac said...

Great post, Julia.