Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Just because most disasters strike with little or no warning doesn’t mean we can’t effectively prepare for them. But while a lot of attention has been devoted to disaster planning for people, disaster planning for pets is all too often left out of the conversation, with tragic results. September may be National Preparedness Month, but the truth is we should always be preparing –with both ourselves and our pets in mind—so we can always be ready.
As experts in both disaster preparedness and response, the ASPCA is very aware of this peril. Following Hurricane Sandy, we assisted more than 30,000 pets in New York and New Jersey, distributing nearly 40 tons of pet supplies to impacted pet owners, and sheltering nearly 280 displaced pets. This summer, we released our first-ever ASPCA smartphone app, which includes disaster preparedness and pet survival tips, a tool to store and manage your pet’s vital information, as well as practical tips and a customizable kit for recovering lost pets.
We put a lot of effort into keeping pets safe, but the biggest role belongs to their owners. Yet, according to a national ASPCA poll, more than one-third of cat and dog owners don't have a disaster preparedness plan in place, and only one-quarter say their animals are micro-chipped. In the Northeast, nearly half of dog owners and cat owners say they don't know what they would do with their pets in an evacuation, while slightly more pet owners in the South – where hurricanes are more common – are aware.
This lack of preparedness can have dire consequences. During Hurricane Katrina, approximately 10,000 animals were evacuated, but less than half were reunited with their families, according to Dr. Dick Green, our senior director of disaster response.
These outcomes aren’t inevitable. Let’s work together to share and take advantage of these valuable suggestions from our veteran rescuers:
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification
Microchip your pets and register the chip. It may be their ticket home if they become lost
Build a portable pet emergency kit with items such as medical records, water, pet food, medications and pet first aid supplies
Affix a pet rescue sticker to your windows (Get a free one here)
Have current photos of your pets on hand
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation, and never leave them behind
Identify ahead of time where you’ll bring your pets -- whether it’s a relative’s house or a pet-friendly hotel -- because not all emergency facilities accept animals
Remember: any home unsafe for people is also unsafe for pets
Here’s a list of items pet owners should include in their pet preparedness kits:
Pet first-aid kit (ask your vet what to include)
3-7 days' worth of canned or dry food
Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans work well)
Litter or paper toweling
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Disposable garbage bags
Pet feeding dishes
Extra collars or harnesses, as well as an extra leash
Photocopies of medical records – or you can store them on the ASPCA App
A waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (make sure to regularly replace expired food and medicines in your kit)
At least a week’s worth of bottled water for you and your pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
A blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
Especially for cats: A pillowcase as a crate alternative, and large bags for supplies, toys, and scoopable litter
Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner
Even if conditions are safe enough to stay home, you may still need to calm pets scared by lightning and loud noises. Prepare a small, safe space in which they can be comfortable, consider closing curtains and shades, play classical music or white noise to muffle the sounds, and most importantly, keep them inside.
Like most humans, animals don’t respond well to chaos. With hurricane season not ending until November, it’s critical for pet owners to be the true “first responders”— knowing just what to do when their beloved companions need them most.
Tune in tonight at 7:00 P.M. ET for our Google+ Hangout with the ASPCA’s Dick Green and Deborah Press as well as representatives from FEMA, USDA, and the Joplin Humane Society. We’ll discuss the challenges of keeping pets safe during an emergency. The discussion will be moderated by ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, and includes an appearance by Joy, an ASPCA-rescued Sandy survivor.
The ASPCA, at the request of the Monroe County Humane Investigator and the Monroe County Sherriff’s Office, is assisting with the removal and sheltering of 15 dogs and a parakeet found living in an overcrowded mobile home in rural Kendall, Wisconsin.
As a result of an investigation initiated by Monroe County Humane Investigator Bekah Weitz, a search warrant was executed this morning for the removal of the animals.
Our Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team encountered a devastating scene: 15 dogs—including Chihuahuas and Pomeranians—were found living amongst feces, trash, and rotting food in a poorly ventilated, cramped environment. Multiple dogs exhibit signs of neglect, including dental disease and dehydration, among other medical issues. Responders also discovered animal remains on the property.
“The dogs were living in filth, and our immediate goal is to transport them to a safe place,” says Kyle Held, Midwest Regional Director of the ASPCA’s FIR team. The dogs are currently being taken to an emergency shelter to receive care and treatment from our medical experts until suitable placement options are available.
Agencies including Texas Humane Heroes in Leander, Texas, have deployed responders to assist with the removal and sheltering of the dogs. PetSmart Charities® provided supplies, including pet crates and food, to support the rescue operation.
These dogs are safe now, but their long road to recovery is just beginning. With your help, we can give these animals—and the thousands of others who still need us—a chance at a better life. Please consider making a gift today.
Stay tuned to aspca.org/blog for further details about this developing case.
For adoptable cats Mario and Ricky, it’s all about living a balanced life. They aren’t the type of guys to rush into things. These independent cats, who are best buddies and would like to be adopted together, are shy and prefer to take things slow. They may need a little extra time to warm up to their new surroundings, but with a space to themselves and the help of a few yummy treats, these two will happily adjust to their new home in no time!
These sweet cats like affection on occasion, but also enjoy quality time alone relaxing on the couch or in their favorite chair. They’d make the perfect match for a family looking to bring home two furry friends that don’t require a lot of attention. Mario and Ricky would do best in a quiet household with an experienced adopter. Adopt Mario and Ricky today!
Mario and Ricky are available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about these best friends, please visit Mario and Ricky’s profile pages.
If a natural disaster or emergency strikes, will you be prepared? As part of National Preparedness Month, the ASPCA wants to make sure that pet parents are ready for any situation that may arise. That’s why we’re hosting the ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Month Hangout tomorrow, Thursday, September 18 from 7:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M EST.
At this Google Hangout, we’ll help you “master the disaster” with tips and tricks to keep your four-legged family members safe. Topics will include how to prepare for a disaster with pets, what to do if a disaster strikes, how to find pet-friendly evacuation locations, and more!
Our expert panel will be moderated by Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee. Participants include:
Dick Green, Senior Director of Disaster Response, ASPCA
Deborah Press, Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs, ASPCA
Anne McCann, National Emergency Programs Coordinator, USDA
Mark Tinsman, Mass Care Specialist, FEMA
Lysa Boston, Shelter Manager, Joplin Humane Society
Rob Curran, Hurricane Sandy Survivor, and his cat, Joy
To participate in our #NatlPrep hangout, be sure to RSVP today and tune in tomorrow!
Back in June, we told you about the ASPCA’s new neonatal kitten ward. This first-of-its-kind facility was designed specifically to manage the influx of newborn kittens that flood shelters every year during feline breeding season (also known as “kitten season”). Now, just three months later, we are thrilled to share one of the neonatal ward’s very first success stories. Here is Catsup’s “Happy Tail.”
Catsup was one of the very first patients to enter the ASPCA’s kitten ward. He and four siblings—Mustard, Relish, Sauerkraut, and Hollandaise—were found as motherless strays in the Bronx, New York. They were only three days old. After arriving at our new facility, the “condiment kitties” received round-the-clock attention from our expert Animal Care Technicians and caregivers. Every two hours, the 8-oz. newborns were fed kitten milk replacer (KMR) through a syringe until their little bellies expanded with contentment. Then, our staff applied warm, wet gauze to their rear ends to encourage defecation and urination—something a mama cat would normally do by licking her young. Once satisfied, Catsup and his siblings snuggled together and slept (until it was time for the next feeding two hours later!). It was a safer, happier, and healthier beginning than they ever could have had on the streets.
After three months, Catsup was old enough to be transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where he was promptly adopted. We were thrilled that he had found a home—until we learned that he was being returned two weeks later. The adopter had not been fully prepared for the demands of a kitten and couldn’t handle Catsup’s constant mewling. Though we were disappointed, fate had someone even better in mind for Catsup: Ilana.
The day after Catsup’s return, Ilana and her boyfriend, Jesse, came to the ASPCA. The animal-lovers had been planning to adopt a kitten for almost a year, but something about June 24 felt like the perfect day to take the plunge. At the Adoption Center, they met Catsup and it was love at first sight. “We knew he was for us as soon as he climbed onto my lap without hesitation,” recalls Ilana. “He was so outgoing and loving, we had to take him home.”
Ilana’s home proved to be the perfect fit, and Catsup settled into his new life beautifully. Ilana calls him “an explorer” and tells us, “He has run of the household and now wakes us up with loving nudges every morning.” Catsup’s new home also came with a new name: Theodore.
From the uncertainty of their first days on the streets of New York City, Theodore and his siblings have all come so far. Thanks to our new kitten ward—and to Ilana and Jesse—this sweet baby has found a better life than he ever could have dreamed of. And we know he is just relishing the experience!