Ocean County, New Jersey, was particularly devastated by the affects of Hurricane Sandy, and the ASPCA is on the ground there conducting water and land rescues for animal displaced or lost during the storm.
At the request of the Ocean County Health Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department in Toms River, New Jersey, ASPCA responders arrived on the ground late Thursday to work with local officials to assess the situation and establish a system to reunite pet parents with their animals.
On Friday, an eight-person team responded to more than 30 animal rescue requests, retrieving displaced pets and reuniting them with their owners.
“Many people have lost their homes due to the storm, and our goal is to alleviate some of the stress for pet owners by reuniting them with their animals,” says Dr. Dick Green, Director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team.
These efforts are a true collaborative effort with other responders from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Animal Rescue League of Boston, as well as the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Toms River Animal Control.
Right now in New York City, thousands of people are waiting in lines, some that stretch for blocks. They’re waiting for the basic necessities: food, water, toilet paper and, yes, pet food.
Victims of Sandy have been through so much, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped caring about their pets. For some NYC residents, their pets may be all they have left.
So as early as we could, the ASPCA began visiting some of the hardest hit areas with desperately needed pet supplies like dog food, cat food and cat litter. At each location, we’ve barely opened up our trucks before they are emptied by pet parents in need.
As our responders handed out supplies to everyone we could this afternoon, an 11- or 12-year-old boy stopped to thank us.
“Thank you so much,” he said. “I have a dog at home, and he’s hungry.”
Update, 10/31/12: As New York City and the surrounding region continue to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the ASPCA is offering assistance to families evacuated during the storm. Our responders are delivering supplies, crates and food to evacuation centers, where hundreds of animals are being housed, in the five boroughs.
For those evacuees who need to report pets left behind in the storm, please call the city’s 24-hour hotline at (347) 573-1561. This number has been set up specifically to check on missing pets. For reports of stray animals, please continue to call 311.
Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter account for the latest updates on the ASPCA’s hurricane rescue efforts.
Update, 10/30/12: As we begin to assess the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the ASPCA is on the ground to assist animal victims of the storm. Our staff and responders are hard at work providing relief to families affected by flooding and power outages.
Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter account for the latest updates on the ASPCA’s rescue efforts.
Update, 10/29/12: The ASPCA is preparing to assist thousands of animals in the region affected by Hurricane Sandy, and wants to remind all area residents to stay indoors until the hurricane passes and it is safe for both people and pets to be outside. The ASPCA is also ready to assist with water rescues as needed.
If you have been ordered to evacuate, please do not leave your pets behind. All evacuation centers in New York City are required to accept pets.
Please stay tuned to our Twitter accountand follow the hashtag #SandyPets for breaking information.
Breaking Update, 10/27/12: In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall early Tuesday, the ASPCA wants to remind New York City residents that all evacuation shelters accept pets. Please take your animals with you if you need to evacuate.
Low-lying areas of the city that are most at risk for flooding and other damage are designated as “Zone A” and include: Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn; Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens; South Beach; Midland Beach; low-lying areas on Staten Island; and Battery Park City in Manhattan.
Here are some ways you can prepare for a major storm:
Get a Rescue Alert Sticker for your home. By posting a sticker similar to the one found in the ASPCA Pet Safety Pack in an easy-to-see location, rescue workers will be alerted that there are pets in your home. You should include the number and types of pets present, as well as your veterinarian’s contact information.
Choose a safe haven. First, decide which room in your home will be the safest spot to ride out the storm. Then, know in advance where you can take your family and pets in case of evacuation. Check with evacuation centers and area hotels to find a pet-friendly location. In New York and New Jersey, all evacuation centers are required to accept animals.
IDs, please! Make sure your pet is wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. This is the perfect time to have your pet micro-chipped if you have not already done so.
Stock up. Make sure you have plenty of food—for humans and pets!—water, medications, batteries, first aid kits and other emergency supplies on hand in case of a power outage.
Stay indoors. At the first sign of danger, bring your pets indoors and keep them with you.
In this guest blog, ASPCA Director of Disaster Response Dick Green tells us what it’s like to be a disaster responder during National Preparedness Month. He also shares his tips for disaster preparedness.
September is National Preparedness Month, and it has certainly lived up to its name! September began just after Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana. Isaac not only “landed” seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina but took a very similar path. Not nearly the size of Katrina, Isaac still wreaked havoc as a Category I storm that just sat and spun off the coast, bringing more than 20 inches of rain to New Orleans and causing extensive flooding in St. John and Plaquemines parishes.
The Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) asked us to help prepare for the storm and be ready to assist with assessment and rescue. Working in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, LSART and the ASPCA provided sheltering support, evacuation, and water and land rescue throughout the impacted areas.
Following Isaac, three members of the Field Investigations and Response Team presented at the National Animal Control Association’s Disaster Academy. My presentation, “Trends in Disasters,” showed that disasters are increasing worldwide and that, unfortunately, the U.S. is a hotbed—consistently number one or two each year in terms of frequency and impact.
Next, six ASPCA staffers delivered talks at the National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs Summit. I provided a cost analysis for emergency animal sheltering. The take-home message was that shelters that house both people and their pets are the only way to go. My team also conducted nearly 40 interviews throughout the country over the last couple of days, sharing these key tips:
1. Have a Plan. That plan needs to be more that just evacuating with your animals. We hope everyone will do that! Your “all-family” plan needs to include how you will transport your animals, possible routes you will take and your destination/sheltering options. Practice that plan at least yearly and share it with your family and friends. 2. Build a Kit. Don’t forget a photo of your pet, medical records, vaccination records, and any special food or prescriptions. 3. Stay Informed. Keep an eye on the weather, follow the projected storm path and don’t get caught unprepared. Staying informed also means knowing which shelters house both people and pets, monitoring possible road closures and having alternate travel plans. 4. Know your Neighbors. Now is a great time to have a block party. Develop a telephone tree and determine who is home when. If a disaster occurs when you are at work, your neighbor may be the only one able to reach your pets. 5. Vaccinate and Microchip your Pets. If you are ever required to shelter your pets, you will want them protected against disease. And the single most important piece of advice we can offer is to microchip your pets. It is truly their ticket home. And remember to update your contact information if it changes.
As the Southeast continued to cope with flooding in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, ASPCA responders spent Labor Day weekend knee-deep in floodwater saving lives. Because of the efforts of ASPCA responders and others, hundreds of animals—dogs, cats, horses and even deer—are now safe.
In Mississippi, an ASPCA team worked to rescue stranded animals, including a young fawn in Harrison County who became trapped on a small piece of high ground after her mother swam to safety. Just as her patch of land was submerged, our responders arrived to take her to safety. She is now with the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society of Long Beach, Mississippi.
Meanwhile in Louisiana five teams—comprised of responders from the ASPCA, Louisiana State Animal Response Team, Texas State Animal Response Team and Calcasieu Parish—together handled search and rescue requests.
A team of responders assisted the coastally situated St. John Parish Animal Shelter in LaPlace, Louisiana, purchasing equipment to deep-clean the kennel after flooding robbed it of most of its space for dogs. St. John’s is getting back on its feet but has severely limited space. In response, the ASPCA transported nearly 70 dogs and cats from St. John’s.
To help local shelters find space to accept animals rescued from flooding, our Animal Relocation team also moved 80 adoptable cats and dogs from Plaquemines Parish and 20 from Jefferson Parish. In total, the ASPCA relocated 90 dogs and 84 cats to shelters with space to care for them: the generous Humane Society of North Texas, SPCA of Texas and the Atlanta Humane Society. (Thank you!)
Our work is not yet complete. If you’re seeking a way to help, you can make a gift to the ASPCA here. The ASPCA relies on the support of compassionate people like you to conduct rescues like this one and to assist animals facing other crises.