As residents of the East Coast prepare for flooding, rainfall and heavy winds brought on by Hurricane Joaquin, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for the unexpected. We are urging pet-parents in the path of this storm—and throughout the country—to follow these potentially lifesaving steps to protect their furry friends in the case of disaster.
What You Need
Food & Water: Plan for at least three days of food and bottled water for each pet, and keep it in airtight containers. Don’t forget bowls and a manual can opener.
Medications: Keep several days of medication for your pet in a childproof container, and make sure it is clearly labeled.
Shelter: Emergency shelters may not allow pets, so have a list of local boarding facilities, hotels/motels or nearby friends that will allow you to stay with your pet. Have a lightweight crate or carrier for transportation and security.
Leash: Have a good leash and collar or harness with current identification information securely attached. Make sure that your pet is not able to slip out of it.
Crucial Information: Keep your veterinarian’s contact info, along with that of veterinary emergency clinics, boarding facilities and animal control, handy. Also keep a copy of your pet’s medical record, microchip information and a current photograph. It is advisable to keep paper copies in a waterproof bag.
Comforts: Pets are frequently frightened during disasters, so a familiar toy or bedding can be comforting.
Sanitation: Have litter or newspapers as well as a litter box for cats. Have a stash of plastic bags for clean up.
The ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Mobile App: The ASPCA created a free Disaster Preparedness Mobile App that can provide critical information before, during and after a disaster—even without Internet connectivity. The app also gives personalized instructions on searching for a lost animal and allows you to store your pets’ medical records and other important information. Visit www.ASPCAapp.org now to download the app on iTunes or Google Play.
Please help us keep other pet-parents in the know by sharing our below Disaster Preparedness infographic with friends, family and your social networks. Have a safe weekend.
Update 9/22: The ASPCA has been in Northern California since September 13, providing emergency assistance in the midst of devastating wildfires. Our team has conducted field rescues and home searches, as well as provided critical aid to badly burned animals and inundated shelters.
Here is an important update on our ongoing intervention and rescue efforts:
203 animals, including dogs, cats, goats, pigs and horses, have been rescued and brought to safety
37 animals have been reunited with their families after being separated during emergency evacuations
700 phone calls have been fielded by our ground team, including calls from pet parents searching for their animals.
This post was originally published on September 13, 2015.
ASPCA responders are working to help rescue displaced animals in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lake County, California. We stepped in at the request of the Lake County Animal Care & Control and its animal disaster response team, deploying to conduct field rescues to save badly burned animals, as well as check individual residences for pets and livestock left behind. The ASPCA will also house displaced animals in its 30-foot disaster response trailer, which is customized to shelter animals in emergency situations.
The unforgiving Valley fire swept through and burned 67,000 acres, destroying nearly 600 homes and leaving approximately 13,000 people displaced in the community. Pet owners were ordered to evacuate immediately by local officials as the fire spread quickly throughout the area, which resulted in many pets and livestock being left behind. Reports indicate that local authorities are now escorting residents to their homes in certain areas, allowing them to retrieve or feed the animals.
“We’re pleased to be working alongside the Lake Evacuation & Animal Protection team to help pet owners and displaced animals in the community, as well as support local agencies identify resource needs,” says Dick Green, ASPCA Senior Director of Disaster Response. “The destruction caused by the fire is indescribable, and our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this disaster—people and pets alike.”
Animals rescued in this operation are being examined and treated by veterinarians at the Lake County Animal Care & Control at 4949 Helbush in Lakeport. Pet owners looking to report lost pets or rescue needs should contact the Lake County Animal Care & Control at (707) 263-0278.
Disaster can strike at any time, so it’s important to be prepared to take action at a moment’s notice. But have you considered what to do with your pet? September is Disaster Preparedness Month, and we’re taking this opportunity to make sure that pet parents are ready to respond if necessary.
Here are three ways to make sure your family is prepared to handle any emergency:
Ten years ago, the nation and the world were horrified by the catastrophic loss of life and property in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The human toll was devastating. But so was the toll on thousands of companion animals throughout the Gulf coast. An estimated 250,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.
Animal rescue groups rushed to the scene and committed themselves to the daunting challenge of saving as many lives as they could. The ASPCA worked closely with the Louisiana SPCA and the Humane Society of South Mississippi, sending dedicated staff to work on the ground for two years and contributing $13 million in grants for rescue, reunification and sheltering efforts.
In collaboration with our partners, we helped reunite more than a thousand pets with their owners, and helped transport over 7,500 homeless and displaced animals to the Lamar-Dixon Exposition Center in Gonzales, Louisiana, which had been dedicated to their care.
Despite weeks of round-the-clock work from responders and volunteers, flaws in the process kept us from being even more effective. It became obvious that new organizational approaches and legal fixes were necessary to get ahead of the next major calamity, and—true to form—we didn’t delay.
Less than a year after the storm, two groups were formed with formal support and participation from the ASPCA: the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) and the National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP). These coalitions are dedicated to enhancing communications between animal welfare organizations, state agencies, and volunteers during emergencies. They also conduct in-depth trainings around the country on topics including flood and fire rescue, pet first aid, proper animal handling, decontamination and animal sheltering and assessment.
On the federal legislative side, two Acts passed by Congress—the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act—added pets to existing federal guidelines for disaster planning, and designated FEMA as the lead agency for pets in federally declared disasters. These laws not only save lives, but elevate the issue of animal safety to its rightful place among other natural disaster priorities.
Another measure only recently proposed, the Animal Emergency Planning Act, would require businesses that house pets—including pet breeders, research facilities, zoos, animal carriers and animal handlers—to develop detailed contingency plans for animal care in cases of emergency. These businesses profit or benefit from animals; it only make sense that they take full responsibility for the animals’ safety.
Important legislative work is also happening at the state level. If you live in California, I urge you to join us and the American Red Cross in supporting AB 317, which will facilitate the establishment of vital emergency shelters in the event of a state emergency. We’re collaborating with the Red Cross to also find ways of co-locating animal and human shelters to help keep families and their pets together during severe crises. AB 317 faces a critical final vote in the Senate next week before heading to Governor Brown's desk for his consideration.
Setting up animal shelters quickly is crucial. During Katrina, many of the existing Louisiana shelters were flooded, making emergency facilities the only available shelters across four parishes.
In New York, lawmakers recently passed a bill that will enable veterinarians to cross state lines to respond to pets in disasters and other crises. Because these unexpected events can often overwhelm local agencies, it’s vital to facilitate the quick arrival of out-of-state veterinarians who specialize in shelter medicine, forensic sciences, and emergency response protocol. This bill is currently awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature.
Of course, the biggest responsibility for keeping pets safe and alive during disasters belongs to their owners. When owners don’t take necessary precautions, it puts both them and their animals in danger. According to a Fritz Institute poll, 44 percent of New Orleans residents delayed or chose not to evacuate the city during Hurricane Katrina because they refused to leave their pets behind. A similar nationwide poll by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the ASPCA found 42 percent of Americans would also not evacuate without their pets.
Simple, inexpensive preparations can keep owners from having to choose between their pets’ lives and their own. Some of the most important tips:
Micro-chip your pets and make sure they wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date contact information.
Keep current photos of your pets on hand.
Establish quick exit routes in your home, and know the locations of local animal shelters, pet-friendly hotels and friends who can watch your pets for you.
Put stickers on your windows to let rescuers know pets currently live there. (Please remove them if no animals are inside)
Put together an emergency kit, including pet carriers, canned food, bowls, bottled water, first aid items, garbage bags, and blankets.
With natural disasters always threatening to wreak havoc on our lives, we must continue to learn from them and actively prepare for their effects. This is the best way to protect ourselves as well as those whose lives depend on us.
This August marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which forever changed the way America responds to natural disasters.
The ASPCA knows firsthand that disasters create impossible and heartbreaking scenarios for both animals and the people who risk their own safety to rescue them. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we worked with animal welfare professionals and volunteers in Louisiana to help rescue, reunite, and re-home more than 8,000 animals stranded by the storm.
During disasters like hurricanes, fires and floods, the ASPCA and other non-governmental agencies play a crucial role in protecting animals and assisting with recovery efforts through search and rescue operations and set-up of emergency veterinary clinics, emergency boarding facilities, and pet supply distribution centers—at no cost to taxpayers. Given the size and expense of these efforts, it’s reasonable to expect that businesses regularly utilizing animals be required to prepare for emergencies and have comprehensive response plans in place to protect the animals in their care.
Legislation introduced in Congress this month will ensure that businesses like zoos, research facilities and large-scale animal breeders are prepared if disaster strikes. The Animal Emergency Planning Act (H.R. 3193), bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), will require facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to develop disaster response plans and ensure that employees know what steps to take when an emergency occurs.
We need your help: Visit theASPCA Advocacy Center now to quickly and easily contact your U.S. representative in Washington and urge him or her to co-sponsor the Animal Emergency Planning Act.