For Valerie Schomburg, animals are more than a job.
She has worked with the Newport Beach Police Department's animal control unit for 10 years, but often uses vacation days to help animals who have been separated from their families because of natural disasters.
Most recently, she went to tornado-devastated Joplin, Mo., on May 26 through June 3 with the American Humane Assn. She and other volunteers stayed in an association-provided, 82-foot tractor-trailer.
Some 290 pets were reunited with their owners while she was there, and 900 were taken into the association's care.
Four days were spent looking for pets, which sometimes meant searching amid rubble and debris.
One pet owner who contacted the organization was worried about the well-being of a black Labrador retriever.
The Lab, who was discovered under debris near the single-family home, was trapped for eight days with a tree branch in his shoulder. Volunteer veterinarians treated him and he was reunited with his owners.