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If there is an up side to Katrina, it is that the majority of people and particularly the government have finally recognized the necessity of planning and accountability for pets in times of disaster. Both of these groups now know that our bond with animals influences human behavior in times of crises.
Never has the phrase “Be Prepared” been more relevant than it is today, not just for Scouts, but for us all. Hurricane Katrina became the rallying cry for acknowledging, “Yes, something can happen in my backyard.” Preparedness is essential for your life and the lives of your pets. Your pets depend entirely on you, so PREPARE.
Plan – all aspects of your own emergency response for both you and your pets. Ideally, design for two scenarios, one if you are confined to your home for several days and another if you and your pet have to evacuate. Elements for both of these plans include, but are not limited to, supplies (including food and medications), finding the safest parts of your home and escape routes if you are ordered to evacuate or your home becomes unsafe.
Research – various destinations as well as escape routes. Investigate routes in several directions, in the event that one or more may be blocked and impassible. Practice a “dry run” for each route so that if you have to improvise, you will be able to do it quickly and without jeopardy.
Equip – your home and your vehicle with emergency supplies and provisions. Include an easily readable map with routes highlighted, waterproof containers for food and medications; water; bowls; leashes; and collapsible carriers or crates. Don’t forget permanent identification such as a microchip for pets (1-800-252-7894 or www.akccar.org), medical and/or insurance records for you and your pets (www.akcphp.com), and a photo and description of your pet, as well as proof of ownership. A First Aid kit is also a necessity; most of the contents can be used for both humans and pets.
Practice – emergency situations and include your pets. Try to do a drill for each type of emergency that may hit your area. Over a period of time, practice until you can get the start-to-finish time down to a minimum. Experiment with pretending to be confined to your home. Make it a game for your pets whether “in home “or on the road,” and your pets will be more at ease if the real thing strikes.
Add – subtract and change supplies periodically. Medications that are out-of-date become ineffective at best and toxic at worst. Food can become stale or worse. Even water stored long-term can take on the taste of its container. Consider changing bedding for crates, and check to see that leads and collars still fit and are in good repair.
Review – all plans and preparations regularly. “Safe havens” may change or cease to exist. Roads may be closed or new ones built. Landmarks may be torn down or names changed. If friends have volunteered to help, make sure those offers are still viable. Your plans as well as your vehicle preparation should be appropriate for various temperatures and seasons.
And perhaps the most important of all;
Establish – an ongoing relationship with local authorities, such as offices of emergency management (OEMs) and dog clubs in a given area. FEMA dictates that in times of emergency, jurisdiction will be ceded to local authorities where the disaster occurs. Planning and Communication with dog clubs in your area will create a team effect that can avoid duplication of resources and efforts, as well as produce strength and a more efficient result.
This does not mean that concerned local individuals cannot help in a generalized effort.
What it does mean is that everyone will have to establish an ongoing relationship with the local authorities considerably in advance of any specific disaster, as well as fulfill any requirements the local authorities may establish, as many areas are making lists of those people eligible to help. This is often in addition to the requirements set by FEMA. This has been established post-Katrina, because it has been generally agreed by all emergency workers that many of the so-called “spontaneous” people in these situations have not had a positive affect on relief efforts.
In January of 2007, the Animal Issues Working Group was convened under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is comprised of Federal, State, Local and non-governmental experts in animal response and emergency management.
Their charge was to revise the National Response Plan (NRP) to include companion animal and service animal issues and address the critical need for comprehensive inclusion of all animal issues.
Revision of the NRP must take into account that the previously existing Stafford Act has been amended by passage of the PETS (Pets Evacuation Transportation Standards) Act. This requires state and local disaster preparation to specifically address animal issues. The NRP must take into consideration the impact of the PETS Act on local and national incident response.
Their key ideas focus on;
Animal issues as an extension of human issues -- how animals are managed in a disaster directly impacts human reaction in that circumstance.
Owners taking primary responsibility for animals in planning, response and recovery.
Service animals are legally considered an extension of their owner’s person (ADA) and must be sheltered with the owner.
LOCAL government Animal Control authorities have authority over all stray and abandoned animals. The size of the disaster does not change this PRIMARY LEGAL AUTHORITY.
The Animal Issues Working Group reminds us that like all disaster response, animal-related response and recovery is most effective when handled at the local level by local resources.
good article!! I always think about how im gonna get my pets out in case of fire or tornado or something. I even told DH I needed a bucket to put my fish in. lol he told me I better not come back for the fish if something happens.
Ive got one of those in case of emergency things on my window that has my pets type, and names listed on it, incase of disaster.