NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Field Investigations and Response team has been working around the clock to assist in the emergency rescue and sheltering of animals displaced by the recent string of tornadoes, flash flooding and severe thunderstorms across the southern United States.
At the request of local authorities and animal welfare groups, the ASPCA deployed responders to Faulkner County, Ark., Franklin County, Ky., Pemiscot County, Mo., and Shelby County, Tenn. to organize temporary shelters and transport emergency supplies provided by PetSmart Charities. The ASPCA has assisted in the rescue and sheltering of more than 200 animals over the last two days.
"By collaborating with local groups and using our resources strategically, the ASPCA's team is able to effectively respond to shelters and animals in need across these states," said Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "A natural disaster can produce immediate suffering, and we're pleased to be in a position to provide relief and ensure that any displaced animals receive appropriate care."
Spring flooding has caused major damage throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Many weather reports are predicting an above-average risk of flooding in those regions over the next week and possibly into May. Toward that end, the ASPCA urges pet owners to develop an emergency plan that accounts for the safety of their animals and to stay informed about the potential for evacuation in their area.
The following tips will help pet owners prepare for natural disasters:
- Obtain a rescue alert sticker, which will let rescuers know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible and that it includes: 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian's phone number.
- Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
- Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
- Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind.
- Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food and medications, and pet first aid supplies.
"The best thing you can do for yourself and your pet in the event of an emergency is to be prepared," added Rickey. "It's also crucial that residents plan to take pets with them when evacuating. If it's not safe for you to stay behind, it's not safe for your pets."
The ASPCA Field Investigation 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, but is more commonly called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.
For information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, please click here.