Animals that survived Sunday’s tornado that left a path of destruction in Faulkner County are emerging with broken legs, lacerations and other trauma.
Some of the injured in the Vilonia area are being taken to Vilonia Animal Clinic, which has partnered with the Humane Society of Faulkner County to offer services at a reduced rate or free of charge.
"I would say 95 percent of the people coming in the clinic with animals that need help have lost everything," said Melanie Gentry, clinic practice manager. "It’s important for them to not have to worry about this."
Veterinarians are Drs. Chris Gentry, Melanie Gentry’s husband, and Paul Jenkins.
Vilonia residents and relief volunteers have been bringing in unclaimed injured animals, and residents have been bringing in their own pets, Gentry said.
She said several animals that were separated from their owners in the tornado have been reunited at the clinic.
"People through social media have found their animals were here, and we reunited them through the clinic. Staff have spent a lot of time taking pictures and putting them on Facebook," said Gentry.
The clinic’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/viloniaanimalclinic.
A Facebook group called "Pets Lost & Found from Arkansas Tornado (April 27, 2014) was established as a place to post lost and found animals, as was the Facebook page www.facebook.com/April272014TornadoLostandFoundPets.
Both networks were active Tuesday with updates and posts from people who spotted or captured stray pets, or who were looking for their animals that were lost in the storm.
Vilonia Animal Clinic had cared for 25 to 30 dogs and cats since the storm, as well as two injured goats, Gentry said.
Some animals were seen but were not able to be saved, she said, explaining some had head trauma and injuries consistent with being thrown.
Deb Kennedy, a Humane Society volunteer who was helping friends salvage items at their home on Cody Lane in Vilonia, said she approached an injured black Labrador hiding under nearby patio furniture.
With the help of another man, the animal was transported to Vilonia Animal Clinic and treated for a broken hip, and she later learned the dog belonged to Cameron and Tyler Smith, two young boys who died in the tornado.
Kennedy said the boys’ aunt claimed the dog, and it was going to survive.
Other Humane Society volunteers were in Saltillo Tuesday attempting to catch a black Chihuahua mix at the home of Robert Davis, who neighbors said is in the hospital.
One of Davis’ dogs, an elderly white Maltese mix, was found by volunteers hiding under a mattress in his mobile home, which was on its top behind Saltillo Heights Baptist Church.
A group who did not know Davis well but said he does not have family in the area were salvaging what seemed to be important items and covering them with blankets in the yard.
One of the volunteers explained she reached under a mattress and felt "something fuzzy," and pulled the small white dog named Cubby to safety.
The dog appeared to be dehydrated and was taken to Vilonia Animal Clinic.
The Humane Society of Faulkner County is focusing mainly on injured animals at this point, but board member Shirley Jarman said many pets that are separated from their owners should begin to emerge from hiding soon.
"We know when things like this happen, they usually hide for several days. We think we will see more coming out," said Jarman.
A staging area that should be in place at least through the day Wednesday has been established by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission behind Vilonia High School.
State Veterinarian Dr. George Badley was heading the operation and cooperating with the group Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office had designated as an assisting animal agency, the Faulkner County S.P.C.A.
He said Tuesday he had not seen many animals yet.
A woman working with Faulkner County S.P.C.A. said the group was in the affected areas in Vilonia and "overwhelmed with activity."
She said the group wanted animals to be taken to the staging area at the high school.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)