Kara Stanley was trying desperately to get from work in Oklahoma City to her home and dog sanctuary in McClain County when she got the call on her cellphone that she never wanted to take.
Her Pug Hollow Sanctuary, 7 miles south of Dibble, was slammed about 4 p.m. May 24 by a tornado. She has spent 10 years at the sanctuary rescuing pugs and other breeds of dogs, cats and even horses.
When the call came from a neighbor that the sanctuary took a direct hit, she was still stuck in a traffic detour near Maysville.
“My heart just stopped,” Stanley said. “It was just sickening.”
Now she has embarked on a project to rebuild the sanctuary.
A cat and a dog were lost. Luckily, most of the animals survived. She's found 20 of the dogs since the storm, including a Chihuahua, named Stranger, that lost an eye and suffered a head injury. The eardrums of her own 13-year-old Chinese pug, named Edgar, the first dog to be rescued 10 years ago, burst from the roar of the tornado. Another pug, named Thomas, also suffered eardrum damage.
Stanley, 33, who works for the state Department of Environmental Quality, this year applied for nonprofit status for the sanctuary. Now, she needs donations to help rebuild the barns, outbuildings and kennels destroyed by the tornado. She's rescued about 60 animals in the past decade and found foster homes for them.
Since the tornado, she has stayed in a tent and a recreational vehicle on the property. She has had help form others taking care of the dogs and cats, as well as three horses.
She had carpooled to work on the day of the tornado and lost her own car, which was tossed 400 yards and crumpled.
“Things were strewed everywhere,” Stanley said. “It looked like someone came through with a weed eater, and not a very good one.”
Her house was heavily damaged, but insurance will cover everything but the outbuildings, barns and kennels.
In Canadian County, Vicki MacKenney has spent the last three years rescuing more than 100 unwanted donkeys, mules and horses on the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue farm in Piedmont.
On May 24, she took shelter in a storm cellar with her husband and prayed her donkeys would survive. The Piedmont tornado came within an eighth of a mile, but missed the donkey rescue operation.
“There has not been a day since the tornado I have not stopped to count our blessings,” MacKenney said.
But with so many neighbors around her who lost their homes and horses, she said, she faces “survivor guilt.”
There are neighbors who have told her they would give up their house if they could only have their pets back, she said.
Two of the donkeys she found a foster home for were living near Cashion and the tornado took out fences at their home. Both donkeys were missing for several hours but came back to the property. The donkeys are now at a temporary home.
“We're absolutely willing to take in animals from people who lost their homes in the tornadoes, and we can help them find a foster home,” she said.
“It's very important to me for people out there to know we're here to help.”
To make a donation to the Pug Hollow Sanctuary in McClain County, send checks to Pug Hollow Sanctuary Inc., P.O. Box 144, Dibble, OK 73031. The website is pughollow.blogspot.com
The Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue operation in Piedmont has room to take donkeys, mules or horses displaced by the May 24 tornadoes. For more information, call Vicki MacKenney at 373-4261.