PILGER — Tammy Darville is hopeful that a Siamese kitten named Nickles can be found for its owner, a victim of Monday afternoon’s tornado that leveled the majority of this Stanton County community.
“We have hopes he’s out there, but he’s probably scared and hiding,” said the rural Norfolk who owns Furbaby Rescue now in its second year.
Furbaby Rescue — which is licensed by the state — specializes in the search and rescue and capture of lost, missing, found or stolen animals.
Darville said she is assisted by “amazing volunteers,” as well as “amazing people who help me pay the vet bills.”
After being contacted by Stanton County emergency management about animal rescue Tuesday morning, Darville said she called county Sheriff Mike Unger. She had worked with him on previous cases.
Darville said Unger asked her to assess the animal situation in Pilger. “I don’t think there’s anyone there for the animals,” he said.
Darville said she put a plea on Facebook for volunteers. Within five minutes, there were three people who were willing to assist her, she said.
Kennels, dishes, pet food and treats were stuffed into bags, which the group carried into Pilger on Tuesday afternoon since vehicles weren’t allowed into town.
“Then we started calling out for animals,” said Darville, who was also assisted by the owners of missing pets.
A 90-minute search for Nickles, who is a gray-on-white Siamese, was unsuccessful by a party of five.
But two cats were found and are now at Puppy Love in Norfolk. One cat appeared to have had its hair grazed very closely by flying sheet metal, Darville said.
Even before she was contacted by officials, Darville said she had calls from several people aware of her work already Monday night. They told her: “Our babies are missing. Can you come help us?”
Darville and the three volunteers spent most of Tuesday afternoon in Pilger. She described the aftermath as “overwhelming devastation. It looked like a bomb went off in the middle of town. It’s absolutely very humbling.
“I choked back tears most of the day, and I’m sure our volunteers did, too. People were crying, grieving, calling out for their animals.”
Darville said she plans to return to Pilger on Friday when more rubble is cleared away in hopes of rescuing more animals. But, she said, “Some could be very far away at this time. We’re hoping most of them are found.”
She is posting photos and updated information on lost and found animals on the Furbaby Facebook page.
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