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      Hundreds of homeless Joplin pets find new hope

      Our sister station KRCG out of Jefferson City, Missouri reports that hundreds of pets left homeless by the devastating Joplin tornado are now in new homes.

      Over the weekend, the Joplin Humane Society teamed up with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, to hold an adopt-a-thon. They groups say the event drew more than 5,700 people from 24 states.

      Long lines didn TMt discourage people from taking part in the free event.

      I came here to adopt a dog, Luz Morena told KRCG reporter Dori Olmos. I want a yorkie.

      After filling out an application, potential adopters like Morena teamed up with counselors who helped match families with their perfect pet.

      After the weekend was over, 745 pets found permanent homes according to the JHS Facebook page.

      "It is an amazing experience. After all this hard work and all the heart ache just to see this many, the outpouring of people to come out and take one of these guys into their homes, is just, it's phenomenal," said Karen Aquino, the executive director of the Joplin Humane Society.

      Some of the adopters plan to honor where their new furry friend came from and what they went through.

      "My dad thought that maybe we could help, come get a dog and we're gonna name it Joplin," said one young pet adopter.

      All the animals were free to a good home. The JHS also spayed or neutered all dogs and cats, microchipped and vaccinated them, and gave out ID tags at no cost.

      The shelter and ASPCA provided an emergency shelter for 1,300 pets since the May 22 tornado. Nearly 500 animals were reunited with their owners.

      There are still plenty of animals waiting for their forever homes. The Joplin Humane Society says there are still more than 200 animals at the shelter.

      Two more furry friends said goodbye to their temporary home at the Joplin Humane Society on Monday. They boarded a plane to meet their new owner, Mike Bettes from The Weather Channel.

      Bettes was one of the very first reporters on the scene May 22. Shortly after the EF-5 tornado touched down, Bettes gave a live report for The Weather Channel. His voice cracked and he fell silent for several seconds while taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the aftermath.

      Watch that emotional video here courtesy of The Weather Channel and YouTube:


      Aquino said the dogs are numbers 746 and 747 to get adopted. They boarded a plane bound for Atlanta, Georgia to live with Bettes.

      (The Associated Press and KOAM-TV out of Joplin, Mo. contributed to this report.)