While natural disasters can strike at any time or place, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Over the years, the FIR Team has assisted animals in the aftermath of natural disasters nationwide, including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and earthquakes. This month, FIR Team members are using the expertise they’ve developed throughout their deployments to help lead disaster preparedness drills in communities throughout the country.
Earlier this month, Dr. Dick Green, ASPCA Senior Director of Disaster Response, participated with the Louisiana National Guard in a category three hurricane simulation in New Orleans. During the simulation, coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the ASPCA responded with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) to reports of stranded animals.
The ASPCA also participated in a two-day Defense Support of Civil Authorities Training in San Antonio, Texas, focusing on military response to animals during natural and chemical, biological, or nuclear disasters, and determining how the military could best interface with civilians and their pets in times of disaster. Dr. Green presented on emergency animal sheltering and how the ASPCA can collaborate with military agencies during disasters.
Dr. Green, along with ASPCA FIR Medical Director Dr. Sarah Kirk and Adam Leath, FIR Southeast Regional Director, assisted with a Florida state-wide emergency animal evacuation exercise hosted by the Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida in Ft. Myers. Later this month, Dr. Green will help conduct disaster response trainings in Mendocino, California and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
One of our favorite stories of the year belongs to Joy, a young cat who was saved from the streets of New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Our staff at the temporary shelter we set up for storm-displaced animals wasn’t sure if she was a homeless kitty or a lost pet. Weeks passed and no one claimed the skinny, skittish feline.
We folded Joy into our regular population of adoptable animals and discovered she needed extra help learning to trust people. With lots of socialization from ASPCA staff, Joy came out of her shell—but a whole year passed and Joy, our last Sandy cat, still hadn’t found a home.
Finally, in November 2013, Joy was adopted by Rob C., a fellow Sandy survivor who lost his home and business to the deadly storm. Robert saw Joy on the local news—her story resonated with him, and together they are getting a fresh start and making a new life.
Tinker’s family was at work when the tornado hit and destroyed their home. After visiting two shelters searching for their precious pooch and almost losing hope, the family visited OK Humane, where their beloved pup was waiting for them.
This Memorial Day weekend was one of healing and hope for the residents of Moore, Oklahoma. The ASPCA saw the community’s incredible resilience firsthand as many of our responders spent the weekend on the ground in Oklahoma City assisting the heroic sheltering and rescue efforts of Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane).
The ASPCA was happy to lend a hand to OK Humane and provide extra staffing to handle the influx of animals affected by this disaster. In what was truly a joint effort, we also enlisted the support of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Code 3 Associates Animal Disaster Response, RedRover, and SAWA (Society of Animal Welfare Administrators) to help OK Humane.
We are thrilled to report that dozens of reunions occurred over the weekend, as people who lost everything came to OK Humane and found missing family members. Here are just a few of those heartwarming moments:
Tasha the Pomeranian, another tornado survivor, gets a big hug from her human sister on May 25 at OK Humane.
Porkchop and Asia (pictured above) were brought to OK Humane as strays shortly after the tornado. They were reunited with their pet parents over the weekend.
Chance, a handsome Boxer, suffered facial fractures and a deep wound on his leg as a result of the storm. Over the weekend, Chance was reunited with his guardian at OK Humane after their home was completely destroyed by the tornado. Here he is pictured with ASPCA Director of Planning and Field Operations Joel Lopez.
To learn how you can help pets and people impacted by the Moore tornado, please visit OKHumane.org.
As many across the country prepare to spend time with friends and family this Memorial Day weekend, our thoughts turn to the good people and pets of Moore, Oklahoma, where many lost everything earlier this week when a tornado devastated the community.
The ASPCA is currently on the ground to support partner shelter Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane) with staffing needs as the facility experiences an influx of animals affected by the disaster. We’ll continue to offer our assistance as needed and will keep you updated as the long road to recovery begins for Moore and its neighbors.
For more information about how you can help the pets and people of Oklahoma, please visit OK Humane. Moore-area pet parents who are searching for a lost cat or dog, please check www.okclostpets.com. The site was set up specifically for this disaster, and OK Humane will update its listings with any incoming animals.
This recent tragedy is the latest in a series of unforgiving weather events. We want to remind folks that the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared. Here are a few easy steps you can take to keep your family safe in an emergency:
• Have a Plan. Your “all-family” plan should include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination/sheltering options. •Build a Kit. Don’t forget a photo of your pet, medical records, vaccination records, and any special food or prescriptions. • Stay Informed. Keep an eye on the weather, learn which shelters house both people and pets, and monitor possible road closures. • Vaccinate and Microchip. If you’re ever required to shelter your pets, you’ll want them protected against disease. Microchipping your pets can be their ticket home.
Tell us: Are you prepared for an unexpected emergency or disaster? Are you on the ground helping the good folks of Moore? Tweet us your answers to @ASPCA using the hashtag #Oklahoma.
On the ground during a previous rescue effort in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011.
As details about the impact and devastation of the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, continue to emerge, the ASPCA stands ready to assist. We remain in contact with local authorities and are prepared to provide our disaster recovery expertise and support once requested. Like all of you, we grieve with those who have lost loved ones and hope for a speedy recovery.