Information on Animal Rescue Following a Natural Disaster

A lot of you may be aware I’ve been assisting the Arkansas areas hit hardest by the tornadoes that devastated many areas on April 27. I’ve also been speaking with officials on proper procedures put in place to save as many pets as possible. Not knowing the law can not only land you in jail, it could prevent a precious pet from being reunited with its legal owner.

Rescuing cats in disasters

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.


The areas hit hardest are under government groups put in place to protect people and property. You can’t just decide to go into an area and rescue pets. Identification is being checked, and if you don’t live in the area, you won’t be allowed in. If you disobey the order to leave the area, you’ll be arrested. This goes for rescue groups as well. When officials decide it’s safe to enter an area to search for pets you’ll be allowed in. Do not try to enter until you’re cleared to do so.


One great idea I read has to do with identifying a pet. Collars and microchips are great. But collars can come off, and microchips have a habit of moving around in the body. Someone suggested using a permanent black marker and writing contact information on the pets stomach or inside the ear. While this will wear off over time, it would make identification fast and easy, and wouldn’t require a trip to a vet or shelter to have the chip read.


It’s important to find out where pets are being taken.Several pets have been misplaced after being found, leading their owners on a scavenger hunt to find them. Here’s the rundown for the Mayflower/Vilonia area, where the tornadoes caused significant damage. This doesn’t include animal lovers who are now sharing their home with a strangers pet. It’s amazing how many are keeping a dog or cat safe until the owner can be found.

  • Vilonia-animals taken to Vilonia Animal Clinic
  • Mayflower-animals taken to Maumelle Animal Clinic
  • Pulaski County-Humane Society of Pulaski County is in charge of their care. If a pet is seen, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office will send out an officer in an attempt to bring the pet to safety.

FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency

There are a lot of concerned animal lovers out there wanting to offer the displaced animals a home. While this is good, keep in mind that FEMA disaster laws says any pet recovered must be held for 30 days to give the owner a chance to be reunited with their owner. Many of the pets lost and found have owners still in the hospital recovering from injuries received during the tornadoes.

The following links are to FEMA sites with specific rules to follow with pets in disaster areas:



Some are taking time to bury the pet. People are very confused on what to do when a dead pet is found in the rubble. First of all, take a photo of the pet. If the pet is wearing a collar with no identification, take a photo of it as well. Be sure to document exactly where the pet was found. It’s best to privately message either a group or vet set up to reunite pets. No one wants to see these images on social media pages, but they’re a necessary part of rescue because you’re identifying the dead.


This motto has proven true with this latest natural disaster. People are out there searching for pets who survived the storm. In most cases, they’re not dumping the found pets at a shelter. These animals are being cared for in loving homes. Foster homes are being lined up for the pets in clinics until the furbaby parents can be found. People from all over the country are offering what support they can from wherever they are. An huge American Humane Society vehicle arrived last night to aid veterinarians who are overwhelmed with injured pets. Social media is proving invaluable, as those in the disaster area are passing around photos, in hopes of matching a found pet with a lost pet. I hope the Arkansas tornadoes have shown the world how good most of the citizens in this country really are.

In closing, please keep in mind a survivor of a natural disaster may be emotionally impacted for a long time. This goes for human survivors, as well as pets.


25 thoughts on “Information on Animal Rescue Following a Natural Disaster”

    • You have got a lot of followers who have an equal interest in rescue and there are a lot of people who are interested in cat and dog rescue in the USA, which is an excellent thing. I’m always very impressed by the people, usually women, who commit themselves to animal rescue work.

  1. Thanks for all you are doing Elisa I have been following your articles ! I have been doing disasters and pets for 12 yrs . After Katrina things got much better but we always can improve the organizing of the animal part .I am on my way down to help and will sign up to do what ever they need in the animal world down there .I volunteered in 2011 in Conway and spend 2 weeks helping animals .I made many dear friends . It is very hard to explain to people that have never been in the disaster plans why they cant help when things like this happen . I watched many animals move state to state after Katrina and my heart hurts ! You are doing a great job getting the info out there Thank you from OHIO

    • Hi Tammy. Thanks for popping by. We love disaster specialists 😉 If you have a special experience and want to make it a story just leave a long comment and I’ll convert it to an article.

      • I’m still doing cats. Things have died down a bit today. I’m no longer in panic writing mode to get them all covered. Wish Mississippi would get a bit more organized with more information. The street where the animal was lost does make a difference.

  2. I’m running into some issues. The latest one is people being upset their info is used in the missing/found articles. They paste their name and phone number all over Facebook. The articles are shared with very few, usually around 40 people, and is taken down once the pet is reunited.

    Now people are getting upset to see their name and phone number, which is already pasted all over Facebook. I’m thinking of just posting

    “oh gee, this pet is missing or found but the owner or the finder doesn’t want their name used, or any way for anyone to contact them. Good luck with the telepathy on reuniting with no information.”

    That’s how it feels. How can pets be reunited when no information is giving? But again, there are already people arguing who will get possession of animals left without a home. I’ve done close to 80 articles in 3 days and am seriously about ready to just give up.

    • You are so amazing Elisa.
      Please don’t give up over human frailties.
      I’m sure the majority don’t care about their info being splashed everywhere. We wouldn’t.
      Sorry. But, it’s my feeling that the ones who want to be anonymous, should stay anonymous and let someone else love their pet. IDIOTS!
      I so admire what you are doing.
      It’s so hard, and you have to be exhausted.
      You will be so rewarded down the road.

    • I can’t believe people are moaning. How can you reunite without contact details? A lot of women are terrified of giving out personal details. For a man it is hard to get into the head of a woman 😉

      • It will never cease to amaze me the people who post stuff on Facebook with the message “don’t tell anyone.” Not quite the same as doing rescue, but it’s amazing. I’ve got a close group of friends in a special group, and no longer put as much under “public.”

        Some of the rescue websites are even getting yelled at for people sharing the posts that people put up. You’d think this would be a no brainer. If it’s on Facebook then people are going to see, share, and hopefully help.

        • it seems that some people treat Facebook as a private place and forget that it is a highly public website design for sharing. It can become quite intimate and perhaps people are so familiar with Facebook that they forget it is a public place seen by billions of people.

      • well i for one dont mind giving out details as how else are people going to get your details. Esp if its a beloved pet. Even if its just a cell number or something. Is it just some people overseas. Id give all details possible esp if my animals were missing and i needed to find them.


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