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Riverside County animal shelter team headed to Joplin to rescue animals

June 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Christopher Alderson is preparing to a group of volunteers with the Riverside County animal shelter as they head into a disaster zone. Their victims will be four legged, scared and in need of help.

Alderson is no stranger to what will be waiting for the team of five in the tornado-ravaged city of Joplin, Mo.,

For eight days, the team will help reunite pets with their owners. As many as 500 animals have been displaced since the tornado struck almost two weeks ago.

"I was on this team here when we went to Katrina," Alderson said. "I've worked the fire lines, Memphis, and hurricane season hasn't even started."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is funding the effort through a disaster relief grant. The grant will help fly and feed volunteers during their stay.

"They actually need help finding their owners, feeding and caring for the animals, things like that," said Candace McGrew a volunteer services coordinator.

Because there will be no place for them to stay in the disaster zone, many will be bringing their sleeping bags and camping gear.

Zachary Morris is one of the volunteers who asked to go and help in the recovery effort.

"I found out through volunteering here that animal handling just comes real easy to me," Morris said. "A lot of it because I have friends that live out in Missouri, a little bit outside of Joplin."

Alderson, who just got back from the flood disaster in Memphis, knows very well the impact volunteers' work will have on those devastated by the tornado.

"For people who have lost their home and all their possessions, especially the children, as long as they have their dog, they're going to be okay," Alderson said.

The volunteers are hopeful their efforts will bring a measure of comfort and solace to those who have lost everything.

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