From April 25 to April 28, 2011, the Midwest and South were devastated by the worst outbreak of tornadoes in U.S. history. The tornadoes claimed roughly 350 lives, 250 of them in Alabama on April 27. In the aftermath of the crisis, the ASPCA, led by Bonnie Dean, Shelter Operations Manager of the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Team, stepped in to help.
Collaborating with our partnership network, the ASPCA helped bring staff to Alabama’s overburdened shelters. An ASPCA team led by Dean worked to temporarily shelter more than 100 animals in Faulkner County in a rodeo arena. The team also conducted field assessments and distributed food to locals groups and individuals.
Meanwhile, in Tuscaloosa, the Saranac Technical Rescue Team had five responders at Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter, and the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) also sent a team. In addition to assisting with shelter management and daily care, WARL took animals back to Washington, D.C., for adoption, lessening the burden on Tuscaloosa.
From our temporary distribution center in Memphis, we supplied Alabama shelters with pet food, crates, carriers, large fans, litter boxes and more. ASPCA volunteers and partners drove trucks to the state and unloaded supplies quickly, helping shelters care for their animals in the wake of the tornadoes.
In mid-May, the ASPCA awarded a grant to Alabama’s largest animal welfare organization. After receiving the $128,000 grant, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) was able to obtain an adoption and transport rig so it could better assist the state.
The rig helped GBHS head to other parts of Alabama—including hard-hit Tuscaloosa—to provide disaster relief. It included space for animal transport cages, an on-board veterinary work space and room for the storage of pet care supplies.
“We are so grateful to the ASPCA for supporting us in our disaster relief efforts,” GBHS Strategic Communications Officer Laura Golden said at the time. “This rig will help us reach even more animals in need as we work to help the pets who have been affected by these devastating storms.”