Photos and story by Brett Roberts and Dick McGee
Among the many complications that result from a natural disaster is that people become separated from other people and the things that are dear to them - things essential to their recovery. The American Red Cross helps address that problem by reuniting families through its Safe and Well program, as well as through the compassionate work of Red Cross volunteers in the field.
|Tiki with the veterinarians who helped |
locate the dogs' owner
In Milliken this week, lives were reconnected by Tiki Dellamora, an observant Red Cross worker from Santa Cruz, CA, who was delivering comfort kits and clean-up kits to flood impacted residents at a fixed distribution site. A few days earlier, a young child had tearfully approached Tiki, asking if anyone had seen her lost dog. This attracted Tiki’s attention so strongly that she began keeping a watchful eye out for any dog that might resemble the child’s description of her pet.
Then on Monday morning, Tiki spotted 12-year-old Claudia Jones walking three dogs down the street toward the distribution site. She stopped Claudia to inquire about the dogs, and learned that Claudia found them in her front yard. They were hungry and seemed very eager for human companionship.
Knowing they must be lost, Claudia put a leash on each dog, and set out on a quest to find the owner.
Tiki decided that the best resource for solving this problem would be a local veterinarian who might be able to identify the dogs, So, Tiki, Claudia and her three charges went straight to the Milliken Animal Clinic, where they found Chaundra Decker, a Veterinary Assistant to Dr. Michaelle Hobler. Chaundra was quickly able to determine that one of the animals had an implanted microchip that identified its owner. The ethics of professional confidentiality prevented the clinic from disclosing this information, other than to a law enforcement officer. At last Susan Fister, the dogs’ owner, was called at her workplace, and they arranged a joyous reunion on Tuesday.
|Claudia with the dogs' owner.|
“I live alone, and have no children,” Susan sobbed through her happy tears over the telephone. “I have been so worried about my babies, and so afraid they were not being cared for. They are my only companionship. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Claudia was delighted that she had achieved a successful reunion. Susan was ecstatic to have her dogs back. For Tiki Dellamora, it was “all in a day’s work. At the Red Cross we specialize in helping people recover the joy in their lives after a natural disaster,” she said proudly.