Microchips Saved Dogs in OK, They Can Save Your Dog in NJ!

Microchips Saved Dogs in OK, They Can Save Your Dog in NJ!

When the record-breaking EF-5 tornado tore through the heart of Moore, Okla., the afternoon of May 20, many pets were home alone, their owners not yet back from work. “If they weren’t in arm, they were pretty well dispersed,” says Leslie Cole, DVM, chair of the disaster issue committee with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association.

Countless pets were missing and feared dead in the storm’s aftermath. Winds up to 200 mph had battered animals with debris and tossed them like ragdolls. The safety of shelter disappeared as structures crumbled around them. Many terrified pets simply bolted. “Dogs and cats scatter to the four winds” during a storm, Cole says. “In the previous big tornadoes, dogs showed up 10 miles from home two weeks later.”

Pets that were lost, injured, trapped, traumatized–and often without identification–were found amongst the rubble by veterinary practitioners, volunteers and residents. The McClain County Animal Response Team (McCART) processed 102 animals in the first 24 hours.

As the number of displaced pets mounted, emergency shelters were created and a process put in place to reunite pets with owners. “The animals were found, triaged and sent to the most appropriate receiving station,” Cole says. “There they were photographed and put on the Facebook page.”

Facebook pages were created for triage centers and shelters, then populated with images of dogs and cats. “Back in ’99 we didn’t have Facebook like we have now,” says Dustin Brown, DVM, owner of two veterinary clinics not far from Moore. “I’m so pleased with how many pets are finding their owners so quickly.”

Brown says volunteers were often able to reunite pets with their owners more quickly if pets had microchips. All animals were scanned as soon as they were received at the shelters.

Brown’s receptionist found only her dog’s broken crate after the storm–no sign of her dog at all. Then she got a phone call that her pet was alive and well with just a minor laceration on her leg.

Brown wishes more pets were microchipped. “The importance of microchipping really paid off,” he says. He plans to run a special on microchipping at his clinics to encourage more people to do it.

Kristi Scroggins, DVM, owner of Scroggins Animal Hospital in Moore, was thrilled when the American Kennel Club donated microchips for the recovery effort the Cleveland County Fair Grounds emergency shelter. “Everyone taken in is microchipped,” she says.

Brown says the combined resources of microchipping and social media have proved far more successful than in previous tornadoes. “The reuniting is going quicker than I expected with Facebook and the Internet,” he says. “It’s just one right after the other getting back with their owners. It makes it all worthwhile.”

Of course, there are still plenty more pets still waiting to be reunited. So those manning the shelters continue to call numbers scanned from microchips and post pictures of fuzzy faces on Facebook with the hope that every surviving pet will go home again. “It’s amazing to watch people who are separated from their pets,” Brown says. “They don’t care about all they’ve lost. It makes it all better when their pets are fine.”


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Meet Our Team

  • Dr. Alan  Pomerantz Photo
    Dr. Alan Pomerantz
    Born and raised in NJ, I attended Rutgers University for my Bachelors degree. I attended Cornell University and received both a Masters of Science degree and my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees in 1985. I have had a varied career working with shelters, zoos and farms. Earlier in my career, I owned a veterinary hospital in Kingston, NY, where I cared for all kinds of animals. I raised a modest flock of sheep and goats for 10 years. For the last 20 years, my primary interest has been dogs and ...
  • Dr. Jack  Mastrascusa Photo
    Dr. Jack Mastrascusa
    I have been with Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital since May 2007. After working as a technician in the dental and surgical field and later achieving my veterinary license, I decided to stay and practice here as this is a great place to work and learn. I live with my wife Silvina and son Leonardo along with a Red footed tortoise named Fred and a Black and white Tegu lizard named Loki. I grew up in New Jersey and moved to Montevideo, Uruguay when I was 13 and lived there for 11 years. It was in ...
  • Dr. Kristin  Onesios Photo
    Dr. Kristin Onesios
    I joined the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital in May of 2010 after working in Hoboken for three years. I had always hoped to return to FLAH after spending multiple summers and college breaks working here as a receptionist and veterinary assistant. I grew up a few towns over in Allendale. For undergraduate studies, I went to Cook College at Rutgers University where I received a degree in animal science. I pursued my veterinary degree at Tufts University. While there, I developed more insight into ...
  • Dr. Sharon  Greenhut Photo
    Dr. Sharon Greenhut
    I am a proud member of the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital team. I strive to be a loyal and compassionate doctor who always advocates for the thorough and fair treatment of those in need. I very much enjoy forming relationships with my patients and their owners, and I truly understand the human-animal bond. I am particularly well versed in the care of dogs and cats and enjoy meeting new clients and patients. I was born and raised in New York and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where I ...
  • Dr. Veronica  Hudson Photo
    Dr. Veronica Hudson
    I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a veterinarian, but it wasn’t until I caught early heart failure in one of my cats (due to subtle breathing changes) as a teenager that I truly knew it was my calling. With this goal in mind, I pursued my undergraduate studies at Montclair State University where I received bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Psychology. Shortly thereafter, I was accepted to the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and the ...
  • Dr. Viktoriya  Zilberman Photo
    Dr. Viktoriya Zilberman
    I have been a proud member of the FLAH family since 2012. I can trace my love of animals back to my childhood, where Mickey, our family’s white terrier-mix, inspired my devotion. As a 5-year-old, I may have loved him a little too much back then. I don’t know how much he appreciated me painting his nails, giving him haircuts, and cuddling him like he was my favorite stuffed animal – but he was my best friend. Growing up in Bergen County, I donated my time volunteering at RBARI animal shelter ...
  • Dr. Wendy  Kozak Photo
    Dr. Wendy Kozak
    I have been at Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital since March of 2003. I originally grew up in Wrentham, Massachusetts. I graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in May of 1997. Since then, I have practiced in Florida, Massachusetts, and currently in New Jersey. I moved to New Jersey after getting married to my husband, Dan, in October of 2002. I have two beautiful girls named Kasey and Madison. We share our home with one Boston Terrier named Jackson and one cat named ...
  • Dr. Anna  Ward Photo
    Dr. Anna Ward
    Born and raised in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, I continued on to receive my bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in 2009. Prior to attending veterinary school, I worked as a certified veterinary technician in NJ for 6 years. It was these years spent working in the hospital that solidified my dream of one day becoming a veterinarian. I then went on to graduate with my degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. My clinical interests include ...
  • Dr. Elena  Rizzo Photo
    Dr. Elena Rizzo
    Growing up in Wyckoff, NJ, I remember bringing my pets to the doctors at Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital. They always took care of my animals like one of their own; we shared many laughs and tears, and they served as role models for the type of veterinarian I wanted to emulate as I grew older. I started at Rutgers University, where I received my bachelor of science in animal science with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine and research and a minor in equine science. Then, I attended ...

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