In the mist of Hurricane Harvey I want to make everyone think about “What if?” What if we had a disaster here? A flood, fire, earthquake, tornado, chemical spill etc. could displace mass amounts of animals and/or people. Would your pets be safe? Would you be able to evacuate with all your pets?
If you have 6 cats and 1 small pet carrier then you will be forced to leave cats behind. Everyone’s situation is unique. It’s hard to imagine you may have to pick and choose who gets rescued. Who will fit in the car, boat or emergency vehicle? What will happen to your birds, fish, caged pets etc.
I was deployed in 2005 for animal rescue services to Hattiesburg Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. Although I am proud to have assisted, it was a very difficult time. No one was permitted to evacuate with their pets. Many pets never found their original owners. Many pets perished. We had to have strong security (National Guard) because people were trying to steal animals. Yes its true looting happens in the animal end too. Our command center was set up close to the Red Cross center. So if we needed to get online or something we had to go over there and we saw the human victims. I remember a little boy telling me they have a dog. He was teary eyed and did not know where it was.
Federal Laws changed after Katrina. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act was passed in 2006. Pets and service animals are now able to evacuate with owners. Keep in mind human life is more important. So if you have an aggressive animal that is not able to be restrained properly, it will be required to stay behind. Also note the PETS act does not include horses, livestock and research or exhibition/zoo animals.
Please be sure your pets are microchipped. This is the only 100% way to identify your animals. Collars and tags can be removed or snag on debris and be pulled off. We have an Emergency Management Plan for animals in Campbell County. The shelter and I are part of the plan. Hopefully we never need to implement it.
If you have considered helping the animals in Texas, my personal favorite group is American Humane. They have the “Red Star” program. They have a large 50 foot stocked semi for disaster deployment. You can become a volunteer, donate or just follow them on their website. I have attended many of their trainings. They are very knowledgeable and a great resource to have for ANY animal issue. Their website is www.americanhumane.org and phone # 1-866-242-1877. If you donate Compassion first animal hospitals are matching donations up to $50,000. You can find all that information on their home page.
Stay safe and keep your pets safe,
Terri Baker, Animal Control Officer
Dayton Community News