Cats that survived tornado land in Arlington

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Municipal Airport received some precious (and furry) cargo on July 1.

More than 50 cats and kittens from the tornado-ravaged city of Joplin, Mo., were collected by representatives of the Northwest Organization for Animal Help in Stanwood and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, after receiving their initial examination on the tarmac.

Sue Clement, senior web director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Seattle, explained that she’d spent the past month in Joplin. Of the roughly 1,300 pets that were displaced by the May 22 tornado, she noted that nearly 500 were reunited with their owners, while the remaining 745 became the subject of a nationwide “adopt-a-thon.”

“We were thrilled that N.O.A.H. and PAWS could take in so many cats, since it’s not often that shelters can take more of them, especially with as many kitties and nursing moms as we’ve got,” said Clement, who added that the ASPCA and the Joplin Humane Society jointly organized the trip.

Lee Lucky, the spay/neuter clinic manager for N.O.A.H., pointed out that the kittens are too young for such surgery. As such, Kelly Hill, the interim executive director of N.O.A.H., will see to it that those kittens remain in foster care until then.

“We’ve already got their foster homes all lined up,” Hill said.

Rebecca Oertel, foster care coordinator for PAWS, reported that her group had trained four new foster families, whom she deemed “my heroes,” to care for most of their own kittens.

“In the meantime, we’re doing triage on the cats tonight, until they’re fed and tucked in,” Lucky said on July 1. Lucky added that PAWS would receive two mother cats and their litters, while N.O.A.H. would receive three mother cats and their litters, as well as four other adult cats. Of the remaining kittens, 12 went to PAWS while 18 went to N.O.A.H.

Because the majority of those kittens were already suffering from various stages of upper respiratory infections when they were loaded into the Cloud Nine Rescue Flight that day, they’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the care of PAWS and N.O.A.H. veterinarians.

“They’ve been through a tragedy we can only imagine,” said Kay Joubert, director of companion animal services for PAWS, who agreed with Lucky that “the first priority is to get [these cats] fed and healthy.”

Mark Coleman, community relations manager for PAWS, praised the ASPCA for its role in coordinating this outreach.

“It’s pretty remarkable that they were able to put this together across the country,” Coleman said. “We’re just happy to lend a hand. In any natural disaster, it’s important to work well and quickly.”

PAWS and N.O.A.H. are tentatively planning a joint adoption event for the Joplin cats later on this month.

N.O.A.H.’s animal adoption and spay/neuter center is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Services offered include dog and cat adoptions, low-cost pet spay/neuter, free feral cat spay/neuter, two off-leash dog play areas with a wilderness walking trail, and volunteer opportunities. N.O.A.H. is located just off I-5 and Exit 215 at 31300 Brandstrom Rd. in Stanwood. For more information, call 360-629-7055, visit their website at or visit their Facebook at www.facebook/


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