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A family is reunited with their cat after a devastating flood


In June of 2011, record rainfall in Canada and North Dakota caused the Souris River to rise to unprecedented levels. When water crested over levees in the small town of Minot, ND, a state of emergency was declared and 11,000
people — and their pets — were evacuated.


The Vitko family was reunited with their two cats after the Minot floods.

Minot-based Petfinder member Souris Valley Animal Shelter stepped up to the challenge of taking in displaced
pets. As staff and volunteers rounded up pets who had become separated from their families, and as
people began dropping off pets until they could return to their homes, it quickly became apparent that
more staff would be needed. With the number of homeless pets growing to more than 500, volunteers were spread thin.

The Petfinder Foundation is dedicated to helping Petfinder members in times of disaster. With a
$5,000 grant from the Petfinder Foundation, RedRover (formerly United Animal Nations) was able to
send responders to the scene to help ease the burden on SVAS staff and volunteers. “I was
nearly at the point of losing hope,” says SVAS director Susan Wagers. “The knowledge and experience
each responder brought meant so much.”

After the jump: Read an amazing reunion story from the flood.

As the floodwaters receded, the difficult task of finding homes for pets and reuniting lost pets with
their families began. One family, the Vitkos, came in on Aug. 3 to visit their cat Linus, whom they had
dropped off at the shelter when their home flooded. The Vitkos’ other cat, Lucy (Linus’s
sister), had run away during the confusion of the evacuation.

The Vitkos’ young daughter Solano had been
especially close to Lucy, and the loss was very hard on her.
While the family was visiting with Linus, they heard Solano scream, “It’s Lucy! It’s Lucy!” As unlikely
as it was, it turned out that it was Lucy. Out of more than 300 cats in the shelter at the time, she was
in a cage directly across the aisle from Linus! RedRover responders had found Lucy and brought her in.

the Vitkos still didn’t have a home, their day was brightened. They
had been unsure whether they would see Lucy ever again.
But now, their
family was complete.

Thanks to the grant from the Petfinder Foundation allowing RedRover responders to help the SVAS,
hundreds of pets were cared for while their families waited to return home — one less thing for the
flood victims to worry about as they rebuilt their lives.

To learn more about the Petfinder Foundation or to donate, visit

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More Grants That Changed Lives stories:

A Thundershirt helps a terrified dog trust humans

A trip to Florida gives an Alabama puppy a second chance

Training helps a shelter dog get adopted

PHOTOS: The pitties were nestled all snug with their KONGs

The Foundation’s 2011 success stories

A grant helps a rescue group tame three feral kittens

A starving Boxer and her puppies get lifesaving care

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