It’s been almost three months since the tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, and the media has long since gone on to focus their attention on the next crisis. Although Joplin is no longer in the national spotlight, thousands of people are still trying to rebuild their lives.
Many of those people are also wondering what became of their beloved animal companions, andBecky Ashcraft was one of them.
On that awful day in May, the tornado swept through her apartment complex and destroyed her home. In the midst of the devastation and chaos, Ashcraft’s gray tabby, Ducky, disappeared. She reported her cat missing but, now homeless, she had to leave before she could try to find him.
Fortunately for Ashcraft and hundreds of other Joplin residents missing beloved pets, there’s a group of volunteers working hard to reunite those animals with their owners.
Megan McLaughlin of Oswego, Kan., brought together several volunteers to trap stray cats living in the wreckage and set up a Facebook community, Animals Lost & Found from the Joplin, Mo., Tornado, in hopes of connecting pets with their owners.
Recently the group learned from residents and workers along 20th Street that there were a dozen or so cats living in the wreckage of Ashcraft’s apartment complex. The neighbors had been setting out food and water, but the cats urgently needed to be rescued. The 100-degree temperatures were hurting the felines, and the building in which the cats were staying was scheduled for demolition.
McLaughlin and her team got to work. They set down tempting foods in hopes of coaxing the cats out of the rubble and into humane traps. On the second night, they captured only one cat: a gray tabby.
When McLaughlin reviewed a list of animals reported missing from that area, she saw that someone had lost a gray tabby cat.
The group called Ashcraft and asked her if she would be willing to come to Joplin and confirm the cat’s identity.
An hour later, Ashcraft was in her old home town, peering into a pet carrier. One of the volunteers asked, “Is that your baby.”
The stunned Ashcraft could only blurt out one word — “yeah” — before she was overcome with tears.
Holding the noticeably thinner Ducky in her arms, Ashcraft said she was pretty sure the friendly feline hadn’t been killed. She just figured someone had found him and taken him in.
I’m sure she never in a million years expected to get a phone call, 10 weeks after she evacuated, saying her cat was waiting for her.
This is great. I appreciate it so much. I cant believe it, Ashcraft said.