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Pet project for vets in Greensburg

Makeshift animal shelter now home to five kittens.

BY LAURA HALLEMAN | GREENSBURG, Kan. | May 16, 2007

Five hungry and frightened little kittens, found huddled under a barn roof in Greensburg nearly two weeks after a powerful tornado destroyed most of the town, were being carefully watched Thursday by two volunteer veterinarians.

The bundle of surprises was brought to a makeshift animal shelter Tuesday night after being discovered in the barn owned by the sheriff. The kittens' mother was nowhere to be found.

"The sheriff's wife brought them in last night and there are a couple that are still not out of the woods," said Debra Duncan, state animal health director. "The mother has not been found yet but that is not uncommon in a disaster. With the disruption of residents' homes also comes the disruption of pets."

Volunteer veterinarians have been rotating in and out of tornado-wracked Greensburg following the May 4 tornado.

Other pets found after the tornado have been moved to the Pratt County Humane Society. The kittens, however, remained under the watchful eye of volunteer vets Dr. Jennifer Akers and Dr. Matt Riegal of Manhattan, Kan., at the shelter set up in a small warehouse on the east side of town.

"There are still a couple of the little guys we're worried about," Riegal said.

Dr. Christen Scaer, who has been coordinating the animal relief efforts for Greensburg, said there were 90 animals - 60 cats and 30 dogs - at the Pratt facility.

Many of the pets that survived the tornado have been claimed. However, many people cannot house their pets because they are living in temporary housing. Water and electricity has not been restored to the town.

Owners have 60 days to claim their pets before the animals will be put up for adoption. Pets adopted will then be on a 60-day foster agreement in an attempt to reunite the animals with their owners.

Duncan said many animals were stressed and were roaming the streets of Greensburg at night and were seldom seen during the day.

"Often times they refuse to come to their owners when called because they are simply scared," she said.

Duncan and other volunteers have set traps with food and check them daily and nightly, hoping to reunite the animals with their owners.

Scaer said the Pratt Humane Society was in need of volunteers to help feed and walk the animals.


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