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Arkansas Positive Animal Work philosophy: Stop the rumors and work together

Positive Animal Work
Elisa Black-Taylor

There is a large amount of tension present following any natural disaster. The Arkansas tornadoes that devastated areas such as Mayflower and Vilonia back on April 27 are no exception.

As with any situation, there are instigators who can spread untruths faster than a 1960's 'party line.' Unfortunately, this is hampering rescue efforts for the poor animals displaced and injuried by the tornadoes.

Although I'm not there, I've been asked to write this article by someone who's at 'ground zero.'

Having worked in active rescue, this writer understands a bit better than most whats going on that level. There are rescues who bicker among themselves. When many rescues don't get along even in the best of time, it's easy to see how a life-changing situation can create tension.

It's hard for me to comprehend the devastation, and the condition of the animals who survived. Cats and dogs who had to be held just to calm their shaking little bodies. I'm not there in the midst, since I live in South Carolina, so I haven't seen the horrors firsthand.

I have learned over the years that in the end, people need to step aside and embrace the Positive Animal Work "PAWS" philosophy. That holds true, even when not dealing with a natural disaster.

One thing to remember is if people are on Facebook posting negative comments, they're not in the field helping. This is understandable for those who live outside the area, but many volunteers are still needed, so why not help instead of harm?

Right now the drama has even caused companies trying to donate needed supplies to withdraw. This only hurts the animals, and creates a bad image on the people out there trying to do good.

One example is the Faulkner County SPCA. This group was authorized by the sheriff to organize relief. They're not popular among other groups. Rumors have surfaced, including those that say the FCSPCA won't allow people whose animals are under their care to sere their animals.

Is there any hard-core documented proof of this? If so, you need to be prepared to show it, rather than passing around 'he said she said' secondhand information.

Be open minded on any information FCSPCA has given to the public. Usually there's a reason behind something announced by an animal welfare group that creates a disagreement.

A lot of the posts on Pets Lost & Found From Arkansas Tornados are people asking how they can show proof to get their animals back if found. This is likely one reason the FCSPCA gossip surfaced.

One dog has already possibly been handed over to the wrong person, and it doesn't need to happen again. People comment they've lost everything.

The internet is still there. The online world wasn't hit by an electromagnet pulse that wiped out computer knowledge. Most pet owners post photos, and those photos are still right where they were before the tornadoes hit.

Were photos of the pet uploaded to social media? How about sites such as Shutterfly, Snapfish and Photobucket? Did friends ever photograph the pet? Did the owner share any photos by email that could still be online.

If all else fails, would the vet or breeder be willing to say an animal is trying to be claimed by the rightful owner? It's difficult to believe in this day of internet and social media that not one photo of a pet is online and people don't realize their family vet will likely vouch for them.

Reports called in to the sheriff were dispatched through to the rescue teams. That's the chain of command, so that is how it has to happen.

"Right now, hatred hurts and love of animals MUST unite everyone's efforts" should be the philosophy.

Intake for found dogs from tornado only will be taken in at Point of Grace church on 64 B outside of May 5. It looks like Vilonia Animal Hospital and Dr. Gentry are stepping up to take lead and working out a protocol for all the animals.

A centralized location is what's needed, and things are starting to pull together to make this happen. This isn't something happening from experience. Most of the people involved have never dealt with a situation like this. They're learning as they go, and mistakes are being corrected.

As far as adopting a pet either found or seen on the various websites, please check FEMA guidelines. In the event of a natuarl disaster, no adoption can take place for 30 days. This gives the family the chance to reunite with the lost pet.

It's amazing how many in the community have stepped up to take a found pet into their home, or to offer their home as foster care. Just keep the 30 day regulation in mind. Do NOT give away any animal found because it's illegal to do so.

This article covers several topics that were a concern shortly after rescue efforts began.

The Facebook group Pets Lost & Found From Arkansas Tornadoes has an excellent system set up for lost and found pets. Their photo albums make it easy to see which pets have been found and which are still missing.

When contacting this group, be sure to leave as much information as possible, including street and town where lost. Don't forget to leave at least a phone number, as well as an email address if at all possible.

The majority of those willing to help are sincere in their efforts. Those who spread rumors and lies without absolute verification need to stop, and they need to stop now.

The information for this article is comes from someone who has worked at saving as many animals as possible. He's spent the past week getting by on very little sleep, while working a high-stress job. I hope the dedication that has gone into saving these animals comes through in this article.

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