Johnnie Richey was one of the many people killed when the deadly May 22 tornado flattened his Joplin, Missouri home.
His family’s grief was compounded by the fact that Richey’s trusted companion, Sugar, a 9-year-old blond Cocker Spaniel, was nowhere to be found.
Immediately, Richey’s sister, Kerri Simms began an effort to find the missing dog. And so she did what many others in search of a lost pet did: she made posters and created a Facebook page dedicated to locating the dog. But as the weeks rolled by, the chances of finding Sugar grew slim.
That all changed Friday night when Chris Ruport, a part-time taxi driver spotted a stray dog walking in the street and decided to pick it up.
“My husband doesn’t usually pick up stray animals, so there must have been something about her that said ‘help me,’” Ruport’s wife Courtney said.
That night, Ruport posted a photo of Sugar on Craigslist. Within hours, word reached Simms that a dog matching Sugar’s description had been found. The next day, Simms made the journey to claim her.
Simms then took Sugar to the Emergency Pet Center in Joplin, Missouri where she was treated for severe eye and ear infections, flea infestation, and severe dehydration. Richey’s mother, Joyce said Sugar was weak when the family picked her up but after “intravenous fluids and a good nights rest, she was better”.
Simms has since taken Sugar home, where she lives with six other dogs and five cats. She said Sugar has spent a lot of time sleeping and eating.
Finding Sugar has given her a new connection with her brother,
Simms said. “It means having part of my brother back,” she said.
Simms also said those who are still searching for lost pets should continue to do so.
“I know there are a lot of pets still out there and there may be people keeping them not realizing that the owners are looking for them,” she said.
“All I can say to them is start with the fliers and keep looking.”