HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of volunteers joined Southern Pines Animal Shelter staff members Saturday morning to distribute donations into Hattiesburg neighborhoods damaged by the deadly EF-3 tornado on Jan. 21.
"People have just so much they are trying to recover from with the loss of homes and the loss of possesions and pets truly are a part of the family," said Shelter Director Ginny Simms. "It's an added burden of having to take care of a pet during the difficult time, so we want people to know their pets are safe and taken care of so they can take care of themselves, too."
Simms said they received over six tons of donations since the tornado, which included over 700 bags of dog food and 150 new dog houses. The donations were made possible through the support of the community, PetSmart Charities, Hill's Pet Nutrition and Chewy.com.
"The response has been great to get things out into the community," Simms said.
Volunteers loaded up their trucks and SUV's with supplies before taking a map and picking their course. Simms and other volunteers knocked on doors, handing out any supplied needed. If a resident wasn't home, but there was a bark coming from the backyard or inside the home, supplies was left on the front porch.
Volunteer Alan Foreman said he wanted to give a little help to get storm victims through.
"We live outside of Petal, we got lucky and it missed us. But some friends of ours lost their houses, so we are trying to get in and help out," Foreman said.
Simms said the numbers of animals at Southern Pines Animal Shelter has nearly doubled since the tornado. The shelter has extended it's hold period for animals, from five days to ten days, to give owners extra time to get their pets back if they went missing during the storm.
If you are in need of dog or cat food, Southern Pines has supplies at the shelter on North 31st Avenue in Hattiesburg. You can stop by while the shelter is open, seven days a week.