Rescuing Animals in Tornado-Torn Texas

Karissa Hadden is the host of the new Nat Geo WILD series, Animal Storm Squad. The show follows a team of dedicated meteorologists, storm chasers and animal experts who rescue trapped and injured pets. Led by Karissa, a vet tech with a heart of gold, this series takes an inside look at the heroes who save animals’ lives in the worst of times.

This week, Karissa and team are on the scene after a tornado devastated the small town of Van Texas earlier this week. The following is an update from Karissa, who is currently in the field searching for animals and reuniting them with their owners:

Animal Storm Squad's Karissa Hadden
Karissa Hadden conducts an exam after rescuing a dog from the wreckage.

What a crazy week we have had so far! Not only has it been intense, it has been emotional. There are no words to describe what the town of Van, Texas has been through and what they have lost. It’s like an atomic bomb has gone off–and not only have they lost personal belongings, they have lost their fur babies. At one point we didn’t even know where to start. Then we came across a house that had been lifted off its foundation and had suffered extreme damage. We noticed the family looking underneath the foundation and our first thoughts were “oh boy what is trapped underneath.”

Well, it was a momma cat and her four kittens. This became our mission right away, save this family of felines and get them back to their owners as soon as possible. After several hours of trying to safely coax the kittens out from underneath, one by one, while keeping our team safe- we had all four kittens and the mom!

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Damage at the scene in Van, Texas

It amazes me how resilient and brave this family of kitties remained while being trapped with limited space to move. After doing brief examinations to check for dehydration, lacerations, or broken bones, I was shocked just how great their condition was after all they went through.

To be safe, we took the family to a vet clinic for a full physical exam. The doctor agreed that they were all healthy, and so lucky to be alive. This experience has been humbling, and I know our team is so grateful to be able to help the community of Van out and work alongside some amazing people! Now back to work!

Stay tuned for more updates from the field, and keep an eye out for Animal Storm Squad, coming soon to Nat Geo WILD.


  1. Fred
    May 30, 2015, 2:11 pm

    WTF? She’s from Canada. Code 3 ass. from CO does that type of work. Thanks for helping, but go back North and do it in your own country!

  2. Dr. Rebecca Gimenez
    Macon, GA
    January 15, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Interesting that you have people coming from Canada into the United States – who are NOT members of the NARSC – and who actually were TOLD TO LEAVE by the authorities in several states – but you are FEATURING THEM IN A SHOW? I am very disheartened by your failure to follow up when I notified you of my concerns two years ago. I will make sure that I notify the members of NARSC, and of every other hard working disaster and emergency response animal related organization here in the USA and elsewhere of your dogged determination NOT TO COORDINATE with established groups, and even when attending the TLAER training your “front lady” didn’t tell anyone who she was and didn’t have the guts to come up and meet me in person to remind me who she was. Apparently your entire organization fails to tell the truth about what you are doing, and why you are doing it. VERY disappointing – I can’t believe NAT GEO WILD and what you are failing to do with this show. It had SO MUCH POTENTIAL TO EDUCATE – but you are only interested in ENTERTAINMENT and the MONEY you can make.

  3. Robyn
    March 3, 2016, 11:40 pm

    Keep up the great work Karissa and team!
    Who cares where you’re from!? You’re doing something so amazing

  4. Jose Saucedo
    Temple texas
    March 11, 2016, 9:54 pm

    I’m a certified vet tech and I would like to join the team to help rescue animals. I’ve been looking for jobs in my field but I can’t seem to find any. Please email me with any information and what I can do to help also to find a job with animals.

  5. LeAnn Sellers
    Van Texas
    March 19, 2016, 10:46 am

    I just caught the episode of ANIMAL STORM SQUAD…. awesome coverage on Texas Tornado. Is it possible to get this episode to share on our Chamber website??? I handle the PR for the Chamber and this is something many of the residents were NOT aware of at the time. I wish I had known you were in town at the time, It was so chaotic…. they really stressed for NON city residents to stay OUT. I am affiliated with the SPCA of East Texas as well. Will you be doing a follow-up show regarding where the “rescues” ennded up or how they are doing now.

  6. Jalisa Clarke
    Bucks County, PA
    March 20, 2016, 4:27 pm

    Don’t think it should matter where these people are from. They’re doing good, bottom line. I would like to know what is the job title that these guys do. I think it would be great to get into this field.

  7. Scott Taylor
    Beaverton, Michigan
    March 27, 2016, 7:33 am

    I don’t care where she’s from she could be from Timbuktu as long as they’re out there helping these animals. It almost made me cry seeing these cats with burns on them California burning. So like I said it doesn’t matter what country they’re from they’re helping people animals.

  8. Lxn
    United States
    April 2, 2016, 7:44 pm

    Karissa gets on my nerves! I will probably quit watching. Her voice, the way she handles cats! She’s loud around just captured animals. She needs to go home.