KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (May 29, 2013) – When a deadly EF5 tornado roared through Moore, Okla., May 20, lives were shattered and property was destroyed. Amid the chaos immediately surrounding the tornado, families searched for loved ones. 

Some of those loved ones were of the four-legged variety, ranging from beloved family pets to valuable farm animals. More than a week after the tornado cut a two-mile wide swath of destruction across Moore, children are being reunited with their pets and farmers are able to reclaim lost livestock. Reuniting people with their animals is Code 3 Associates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas.

Longmont, Colo.-based Code 3 Associates has been a partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since 2012, where the collaboration has led to increased recognition for the efforts of Code 3 Associates and, in turn, increased donations to the national response team that at the request of local government officials provides animal rescue and recovery during any kind of disaster. 

That collaboration takes center stage this weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway when Tony Stewart carries Code 3 Associates on his No. 14 Chevrolet throughout the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Just a day after the tornado struck Moore, Code 3 Associates dispatched BART, the mobile command center that stands for Big Animal Rescue Truck, to Oklahoma where it was staged outside Oklahoma City before getting deployment orders to move into Moore. Since entering the city of more than 55,000 people, Code 3 Associates has assisted local animal control officers who have been inundated with stray, injured and displaced animals, a massive effort that is being coordinated by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

While human relief and recovery efforts always take precedence in a disaster, animal relief is also needed. Code 3 Associates has evolved from one unpaid volunteer to approximately 75 professional responders around the country, which includes animal welfare, law enforcement, fire, EMS and veterinary specialists from the United States and Canada. While its focus is animals and their owners, Code 3 Associates trains its responders to the standards of human rescue, and Code 3 Associates also provides training to conduct thorough investigations into animal welfare, all of which is accredited by Colorado State University (CSU) and the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Code 3 Associates’ logo and slogan, “Riders On The Storm Animal Rescue Team,” is a familiar one to many, particularly in the Midwest. When a devastating tornado struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011, Code 3 Associates arrived shortly thereafter. Code 3 Associates remained in Joplin before being called to Pierre, N.D., where severe flooding from the Missouri River necessitated the specialty work of Code 3 Associates for nearly two months. The organization’s recent work in Moore is another example the group’s commitment to animal welfare.

Those wanting to learn more about Code 3 Associates and what they can do to support its mission can do so by visiting www.Code3Associates.org.

TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Code 3 Associates is on your car this week, and while you’re racing at Dover, they’ll continue to do some very important work in Oklahoma. Talk about that.

“We’re honored to have Code 3 Associates as a partner with Stewart-Haas Racing. Whenever there’s a disaster, everyone wants to help, and it’s nice to know there’s an organization out there that takes care of a sometimes overlooked but very important family member – your pet. Taking care of animals has always been important to me, and when we started our foundation, we made animal welfare a priority. To be able to promote the work of Code 3 Associates so that it can do even more work for people and their pets is very satisfying.”

Dover’s surface is concrete. Do you have to alter your driving style when you race on concrete?

“I don’t think you drive it any differently. But because it is concrete, the track has a lot more bumps than an asphalt track would. There are seams in Dover’s surface and places where they’ve cut the concrete for expansion. Those sections shift and change, and every year when you go there, the bumps are a little bit different than they were the year before. Dover is a track that’s constantly changing. But it’s one of those places where you really can’t change your driving style. You still have to do the same things you always do. It’s just a matter of finding the package that’s right for that racetrack. But other than that, you go through the same set of scenarios and challenges you would on any asphalt track – either the car is going to be tight or it’s going to be loose.”

Dover is a pretty unique track being that it’s a high-banked, 1-mile concrete oval. How do you approach it?

“Dover is a track that is kind of a two-phase deal. It’s easy to get your car too tight in the center (of the corner) trying to get it to drive up off the corner nice, and it seems like if you get it to rotate through the corner, then it’s way loose off. Those are the two things that you really battle there. It’s the sacrifice of where do you want to be a little bit off to accomplish having a balanced car.”

Is Dover the type of racetrack where a driver can make up for a racecar that isn’t handling well?

“To a certain extent, yes. With the way the cars slide around on the racetrack late in the day, there are times when a driver can make up for what the car won’t do. They can move around on the racetrack and help themselves out by finding a faster groove.”

After early success at Dover, it’s been a track that for the last few years has proven troublesome. What is your mindset going into Dover knowing your recent history there?

“Dover has been the track where we’ve struggled the most, so I think that’s the one we have to look at and say, ‘This is one that we have to figure out and do better if we’re going to have a shot at this.’ We have to survive there.”