Hearts Warm in Turkey as Families Rejoice at Furry Miracles

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Over the years growing up in the midwest and south, we have had run-ins with natural disasters.  Sometimes they were tropical, other times tornadic, but in a weather volatile region the possibility of a town destroying event is never too far from one’s mind.  While earthquakes are not a large concern in Texas, they most definitely are in Missouri.

One of my favorite family anecdotes is when one of our kitties was mistaken for an earthquake.  In April of 2008, the St. Louis region had a minor but noticeable quake that we ignored in the middle of the night, because we were used to this bear-cat hybrid of a cutie shaking our bed.  He would dig his claws into the mattress pad and shake shake shake his booty.  It was like having a furry, blue-eyed, bed massage adapter.

So when we woke up to news of the earthquake, we both said aloud, “I thought that was Micah!”

We had a good laugh.  Nothing was broken, and St. Louis, as vulnerable to earthquakes as it is, was fine.  It was not lost on us that the apartment building was older, and that a major quake could cause us tragedy, however.  Our plan in case of emergency went like this:

1:  Cats

2.  Wedding Candles

3.  Pills

4.  Passports

5.  Laptop and other important data on hard drives.

Depending upon the urgency, some sentimental childhood mementos had been ranked as well.

But look to number one again:  Cats.  We never had kids.  Health disallowed that stage in life.  But we had cats.  Imagine, if you will, being in Turkey when the massive quake struck, and everything in your world has turned to rubble, and the only child you had was missing.  Only this child was about five pounds with gray fur and gold eyes.  

After being injured in the quake, Rumyesa Gürbüz was evacuated to Istanbul. But she posted a plea on Facebook in a desperate attempt to find Leyla. HSI saw the post and began searching for the cat but initially was unsuccessful.

Kelly Donithan, HSI’s (Humane Society International) director of animal disaster response who was helping to locate Leyla, asked Gürbüz to send her a voice message calling the pet’s name in an attempt to lure the cat out. After a lot of patience, the trick worked and the terrified pet finally emerged from the wreckage.

Gürbuz was reunited with Leyla after travelling to a field veterinary hospital with both legs in casts.  This quake centered near Iskenderun is believed to have killed over 53,000 people in Turkey and Syria, so any ray of positivity shines cross-continent.

And then there is Fluffy, trapped in unsteady rubble.

“Fluffy was not microchipped, but a search of the family name that the team had spotted on the entrance of the apartment building revealed the owner who the team was able to reach. Two family members came to collect Fluffy in an emotional reunion. Fluffy’s kidneys were impaired from dehydration, but she is on the mend.”

Before this story you may never have heard of Kelly Donithan.  But consider the work she is doing to reunite pet parents with their children in the midst of disaster.  They say, that not all heroes wear capes.  This is true.

But they are still recognizable.

Just look for the ones with white fur on black pants.

Purr kitties, purr.

Here is a collage of video showing how the “Pets of Turkey” have made their mark on humanity.




A pooch heals a broken family after losing home.


From Inside Edition’s description: Umut lives in the Turkish city of Adiyaman. It was hit hard in early February’s devastating earthquakes. Umut told reporters that shortly after the quake, he and his kids were driving through the ruins of their city. They heard barking coming from under some rubble. So they started to dig. And after half an hour, they pulled out a dog. They named it Bincir. Now, they all live in temporary housing. The little canine has become a part of the family, and has a special bond with Umut.


In the end we are just flesh and blood, bones and fur, and all of us are powerless in the face of the fury of nature.  And that’s ok.  It reminds us that we need each other.

And if, say, Huey Lewis were to opine on this matter, perhaps he would ok my slight edit to his masterpiece:

The power of love is a curious thing

It might be a purr or a wag, or a flapping wing

A connection that seems to have come from above

More than a pet, that’s the power of love.