St. Martinville, La.--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced that it has awarded a grant of $5,000 to the St. Martin Parish Animal Services in St. Martinville, La. The funds will be used to purchase materials to assist with local and out-of-area emergency sheltering for shelter animals as well as owned pets, with an emphasis on helping disabled, elderly and special needs pet owners.
In addition to assembling resources to care for displaced animals, St. Martin Parish Animal Services will be using the ASPCA's grant funding to educate the public about establishing a disaster preparedness and evacuation plan.
"The funds that the ASPCA has generously granted to our disaster preparedness and education initiative will make it possible for the citizens of St. Martin Parish to include their pets in emergency plans," said Dana Fontenot, animal services agent for St. Martin Parish Animal Services. "Education is key to disaster preparedness. When people know what to bring and where their pets are welcome, the process becomes much less stressful. We now have the ability to assist with that education and the necessary preparations for people to safely evacuate with their animal companions."
"The ASPCA recognizes the importance of planning ahead, and we're pleased to be in a position to support the St. Martin Parish Animal Services," added Kathryn Destreza, Southeast regional and investigations director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "Communities across the country have experienced numerous and various weather-related disasters this year, and we commend the local agency for developing a plan in advance as hurricane season reaches its height."
In a recent research study conducted by Lake Research Partners and commissioned by the ASPCA, more than one-third of pet owners admitted they don't have an emergency plan. Destreza added, "Louisiana is especially vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tropical storms and flash floods, and the best thing pet owners can do is to be prepared."
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team frequently responds to natural disasters, including major events like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, and is commonly called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.
This year alone, the ASPCA has assisted more than 18,500 animals in communities across the U.S. that were severely affected by natural disasters. The ASPCA led the relief and recovery efforts of more than 1,300 animals following the EF5 tornado that decimated the community of Joplin, Mo. and assisted several communities throughout the Midwest and South affected by severe flooding. Most recently, in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, ASPCA responders deployed to New York City to prepare for animal emergencies, and later assisted in field assessments and emergency sheltering of animals displaced by the flooding in Schoharie and Broome counties, N.Y.
For information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, please visit http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness/