By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Perry Erickson and her teenage son’s home feels too quiet after the tornado that devastated much of their neighborhood and other parts of the city a week ago.
The presence of two family members at the house on Lumpkin Avenue has been replaced with two makeshift crosses placed at railroad tracks a few blocks away.
Tupelo police found Jack, a black Labrador, and Marley, a yellow mixed Labrador, at the railroad tracks hours after the tornado.
Marley had died, but traumatized Jack was paralyzed from the neck down and euthanized two days later.
“It makes me so sad when I see my neighbors’ dogs,” Erickson said this week, standing outside her house. “Whenever I pull up, I expect them to bark.”
While Lee County recorded a single human death credited to the destructive weather Monday, no data exists for animal deaths from the tornado.
However, the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society has tracked about 150 cats and dogs brought to the shelter after the tornado, bringing the facility beyond capacity for taking care of animals waiting for adoption.
Owners of some of the animals brought to the shelter after the storm have claimed their pets but most remain.
“We’re seeing a lot of people who have had storm damage and surrendered their animals,” said Donna Jarrell, executive director for the local humane society.
To ease overflow of pets at the shelter, volunteers from the Northeast with the International Fund for Animal Welfare traveled to the area to take animals at the humane society prior to the storm to shelters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for adoption.
On Monday, a 36-foot trailer with 60 dogs took the first of two loads of animals north for possible adoption. The animals will be placed for adoption in four shelters in Pennsylvania and another in New Jersey.
A second load of animals will travel this week to an animal rescue facility in Washington, D.C., and in New Jersey.
“We’re trying to make room for new adoptions so all these animals aren’t euthanized,” said Denise Bash, a volunteer from the Philadelphia, Pa., area.
Jarrell said this time of year is often the most active for people bringing animals to the shelter and encourages anyone interested in adoption to visit.
As for Erickson on Lumpkin Avenue, she may consider adopting again after pain eases from losing Jack and Marley .
“I can’t do it yet,” she said. “I’ve got to grieve.”