It’s impossible to know what these tiny tornado survivors were thinking as they flew across the country, but one thing is certain: they’ve found a new state to call home. On Friday night July 1, the 50 felines from the tornado ravaged city of Joplin, Missouri arrived at the Arlington airport, on their way to PAWS.
Photo: Volunteer Byron Wilkes, PAWS Companion Animal Shelter Director Kay Joubert, pilot Ted Dupuis, NOAH Director of Operations Kelly Hill, and PAWS Foster Care Coordinator Rebecca Oertel work to transfer the furry cargo.
These animals are just a few of the hundreds of cats and dogs who are now homeless as a result of the tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, 2011. The felines (mostly kittens) were flown more than 2,000 miles across the country on their own Cloud 9 Rescue airplane, piloted by Ted Dupuis while the cats were monitored by local volunteer Byron Wilkes.
Photo: PAWS Companion Animal Shelter Director Kay Joubert and NOAH Clinic Manager Lea Lucky hoist crates of cats over the fence at the Arlington airport.
The kitties were greeted on the tarmac at Arlington Airport by rescue teams from PAWS, NOAH, and the ASPCA. The rescue teams set to work transferring cats and kittens from the plane to the rescue vans, and back to the shelters where they will finally be able to find their forever homes. Curious bystanders took the opportunity to snap photos of the playful kittens, who were still pouncing and playing, showing no signs of jet lag.
Photo: Volunteer Byron Wilkes checks on the kittens after their journey.
When all was said and done, PAWS brought back two adult cats and 22 kittens to our Companion Animal Shelter, and the remaining cats went to NOAH. The cats seemed happy to have their paws on solid ground, as they quickly scarfed down their dinners.
Many of these kittens are suffering from upper respiratory infection, and will be carefully monitored and cared for by PAWS veterinarians.