Hundreds of dogs and cats peer out from their cages at the Joplin Humane Society, some with cuts, infections, and broken bones from the deadly tornado that turned their lives, like those of their owners, upside down. Since the tornado, the Humane Society has found itself overflowing with animals, with about 900 now calling the shelter home—three times its usual inventory. One way or another, the pets became separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the May 22 twister that tore through the town, killing 153 people. In some cases, the owners—scrambling to find homes of their own after 7,000 homes were destroyed, leaving nearly one-third of the city's 50,000 residents homeless—have simply given up their pets.
"The reality is, a lot of these people aren't in a position to come get these animals," said an ASPCA worker. The humane society is determined to find a home for every cat and dog. To that end, it plans an "Adopt-a-thon" the weekend of June 25-26, when animals that haven't been claimed by their owners will be given away free to good homes, after being spayed and neutered. None of the pets left homeless by the tornado will be euthanized, according to the executive director. (Click here to read about more aftermath from the destructive Joplin twister.)