Maggie: Not Your Normal Disaster Survivor

Story and photo submitted by Major Christine Poff

Captain Cyndi Shiels and her new friend Maggie

Captains Mary Poff and Cyndi Shiels looked around what had been the residence of the Poff family for the past five years. The home, which is the parsonage for The Salvation Army, had fared better than many in the subdivision when the F5 tornado made its way through Joplin, MO. It sustained extensive damage but was still standing.

The two women were prepared for much of what they saw—broken glass and debris everywhere. Adoor had been torn from its hinges and blown down the hallway. Glass shards protruded from the furniture.

Then suddenly, in the middle of all this damage, they were greeted by a dog. She had evidently sought refuge following the tornado, gaining access through the damaged back door. The dog appeared to have sustained no injuries other than cuts on her feet.

The two captains completed their tour of the home and were ready to leave. But what about the dog? Neither of them felt they could leave her there. Feeling a responsibility to care for this animal, Captain Cyndi decided to take the dog home with her until they could find the owner.

The next day, Captains Cyndi and Amos Shiels took the dog to their vet. The vet discovered the dog had a microchip, and the Shiels learned the dog’s name was Maggie. They were eventually able to make contact with the dog’s owner.

The owner, Jennifer, was relieved Maggie was found and cared for. But tears came as she shared that they had not been home when the tornado struck and their house had been destroyed. Jennifer went on to explain that she was suddenly unemployed as her workplace had been destroyed, and it would be 6-12 months before they would be able to rebuild their home. In the meantime, she didn’t know where they were going to live and couldn’t take the dog. The Shiels assured Jennifer that Maggie could stay with them for a few weeks.

Jennifer called later to say that a friend had offered to keep Maggie for the next year while her family rebuilds. Soon Maggie will be relocated to her new temporary home in Chicago.

The Salvation Army has been responding to disasters across the country, and around the world, for over 100 years to serve the victims, first responders and volunteers. Finding missing pets has not been one of the services given by the Army, but Maggie was in the right place at the right time and received help from the officers who found her. In turn, her owners received peace of mind about her safety and care during this time of uncertainty as they begin to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and start over again.

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