Sandy Monterose, Senior Director, Disaster ReadinessJuly 20, 2007
Thank you to everyone who participated in our live, moderated discussion with Sandy Monterose, Senior Director, National Outreach, Disaster Readiness. At the end of the chat, Sandy sent this message to all of you:
Thank you all for participating, and keeping me on my toes with such great questions! Pleasework on your personal preparedness plan, and like Angel and the boys, continually assess and improve it. Then, help your community with its plans for the animals. Call your emergency manager.
Please read on to hear Sandy’s valuable advice on what to prepare in case you must evacuate your home, equipment and supplies you’ll need, how to retrieve your pets if you can’t get to them, and more.
I am owned by three Bichons who will absolutely go insane if they are not with me. They are petrified of thunder and I would go insane myself if I couldn't have them with me. What do you suggest I should prepare for them in case I need to evacuate due to an impending hurricane? I am in Florida. Thanks.
Below is some of the info off our website about personal disaster preparedness, and I'm glad you asked. The most important thing for you would be to have an evacuation plan in place that includes your “owners,” so you could all be safe together.
Arrange a Safe Haven Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that Red Cross disaster shelters will not accept pets because of health and safety regulations, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time: - Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits Keep an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. This kit should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include: - Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
3-7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
Litter or paper toweling
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
Pet feeding dishes
Extra harness and leash (Note: harnesses are recommended for safety and security)
Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kitotherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
Bottled water, at least seven days' worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
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: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
Especially for dogs: Long leash and yard stake, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner.
You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.
Thank you, Sandy. My owners and I appreciate your help immensely!
I work in an urban area. We don't have livestock, but residents have pot-bellied pigs and exotics. Any suggestions on how to house these animals in a shelter environment?
Well, the optimal answer would be separately. Possibly in a pre-arranged location such as fairgrounds or local farm, with assigned people who have the expertise to care for them. If you work for the local shelter and are trying to create a protocol, I'd connect with the owners and work together with them on a plan.
What issues should a community consider regarding sheltering people and pets in the same facility?
The challenges with sheltering pets and people in the same facility are mainly health and safety issues. People with allergies, animals who may be dangerous or carry diseases that can affect humans, sanitary issuesall these things make it necessary to house people and animals separately in a disaster. However, the Red Cross has been working with a coalition of national animal rescue and sheltering organizations to encourage co-location of shelters, so that people’s pets are in a facility near where they are. That way they can help to care for their pets, and ease the stress on their animals, and themselves! The important thing is to make sure the conversation is happening at your local level. People with pets, farmers, veterinarians, local government, animal control, police & firefighters, human sheltering organizationsall stakeholders should be part of the conversation to get the most comprehensive plan for animals and the community.
I have three cats and cannot figure out how to evacuate all of them along with the necessities needed to care for them in an emergency. Do you have any suggestions?
Well, first I would plan on three carriers, because in an emergency situation, they may not all want to be shoved together in one space. I have seen many people transport their cat carriers bungee-corded onto carts, like the ones used for luggageso that may be an option. Also, you may want to prearrange a plan with a neighbor. Your emergency supplies could be carried in whatever is easiest to transport for you. I hope that helps.
I am handicapped and I use a walker. The boys and I live on the 3rd floor of a four-story building. I have prepared a canvas bag with their food, some energy bars and a can opener with some canned items for myself, treats and chew toys for them, their "blankies," a change of clothing for myself, their harnesses & leashes with all tags & ID attached to put on them, small plastic bowls to put their food & water in, and a set of utensils for myself along with a plastic plate & covered plastic glass. I keep all my medications in a large plastic zip-lock bag & also some children's aspirin for them. I really do not care about my pictures or any other material things, except maybe a few books to read. I would need to throw them in along with any flea/tick applicators I have, throw clothes on, put their harnesses on, grab the bags, and out we’d go. If absolutely necessary, I can walk with my cane instead of the walker. What have I forgotten? I am usually updating our "escape gear" every few months and am always thinking I must be missing something.
Angel and the Boys
We are in the process of creating a pet "grab 'n go bag" that will soon be available in our store, and it sounds like you have most of the essentials already, but here's the list: Current medication, medical and vaccination records, any special medical or behavioral instructions, pictures of your pets, and pictures of you with your pets, all identification numbers, and emergency contact numbers for you and for them (relative, veterinarian, etc), food and water for seven days (good thing they are not Great Danes, eh?), pet first-aid kit, extra collars & leashes, water bowl, bedding and carriers. Don't forget some items that you need for yourself: flashlight, transistor radio, batteries, etc.
Our fledgling little humane society has just broken ground for the new shelter here, and one of my goals for our facility is to be a community resource for "disaster preparedness for your pets and animals." Any thoughts or experiences?
There are many good resources available on individual disaster preparedness, including a brochure put out by the Department of Homeland Security that you can find on the ready.gov website. As you can tell by this chat today, people are aware and interestedit's a matter of making sure they get the info they need.
Hi, My county is currently in the process of starting up our CART (County Animal Response Team). I have been searching the Internet for different plans to get a better understanding. Are there any websites that you would recommend that would help us with ideas and templates as to what we would need to implement, and create a manual? This would greatly help streamline the process as there is a vast amount of info out there.
Excellent! CARTs and SARTs (State Animal Response Team) are the best answer to making sure that your community's animal issues are professionally addressed in a disaster. Here are some websites of some of the state SARTs:
http://www.empiresart.com/ New York
http://nc.sartusa.org/ North Carolina
I think that most states have a website for their SART.
I ran a (human) MASH unit in Biloxi for Katrina for a week. We encouraged all pets and animals. We had not one problem with our animals, and had over 1,000 evacuees (human) to care for. When we rotated back home, the ARC took over and evicted animals, including two seeing-eye dogs. Has this problem been addressed?
Thank you for the work you did, from all of us who care about animals and the people who love them. The Red Cross has become aware that animal issues are people issues, thanks to Katrina. They have issued a statement, which I assume can be found on their website (if not, feel free to email me for a copy). Although they are not going to take on the sheltering of animals, they are encouraging all of their chapters to look at the issue of encouraging co-location, where the animals’ shelters are located either in the same facility or close by to the humans. In some cases, the humans may be in a high school, and the animals in the gym or locker room. In other cases they may be in a building across the street. It's not perfect yet, but much improved from where it was.
I have obtained a pet rescue sticker from the ASPCA. I was wondering if it was supposed to be in your window at all times or if you put it on in an emergency. I was thinking somebody might steal my imperial sweetheart if it was up all the time.
The challenge then would be to remember to put the sticker in the window in an emergencywhich may be difficult, depending on the situation. Another thing to remember about the sticker is that if you do evacuate with your pet, try to remember to write on the sticker "EVACUATED," so emergency personnel don't spend time looking for animals who aren't there.
I am concerned that in case of an evacuation situation in NYC, the pets will not be allowed to board the rescue vehicles, like what happened in New Orleans. I do not see how I could possibly evacuate without my two cats. Any options for pet parents who would not leave their animals behind? Thanks.
It is so sad that so many animals lost their lives and their humans during Katrina. But because of that, things for animals in disaster are better than they were, and we hope to never see the likes of that again, regardless of the magnitude of the disaster. Below is some info on the PETS Act that requires states to include animals in disaster plans. As a result of the PETS Act (Pet Evacuation & Transportation Safety Act), many of the states are now held responsible for providing evacuation and sheltering opportunities for companion animals, and must include these issues in their Disaster Response Plans if they want to receive federal planning/response dollars or reimbursement after an incident. However, because the PETS Act was just signed into law late last year, there will be some lag time in developing those plans as well as implementing them. But, many states are actively seeking assistance from experts in the field in order to make sure that the plans they are developing are not only practical and realistic, but also genuinely protect the companion animals within their jurisdictions.
One more question: if the disaster strikes while we are away from home, and we cannot physically get back into the building to retrieve our animals, what is the best thing to do? I feel panicky already just writing this! Thanks.
Againprepare, prepare...have a buddy system with a friend or neighbor. If you were in that situation, though, you would want to contact the Emergency Manager in your area to find out what agency is handling animal issues (Animal Control in many instances) and report your pets to them so they can retrieve them. There are always instances of people who try to rescue their pets, and end up needing rescue themselvesand that hampers the work of the emergency personnel. So don’t do anything like that!
How would you evacuate two large dogs from a 2nd story? For instance, if there were a fire in the kitchen/hallway, my exit would be limited to an upstairs window. I purchased the window ladder when I first moved in for me, but now with my dogs, I don't know how I'd get them to ground level safely. Any ideas?
Oh boy! It sounds like you and the dogs need to learn how to fly! Seriously, I suggest you call the local fire department, and see if they can help you troubleshoot the situation. I know that ours came out and helped our shelter to work out an evacuation plan; I would hope they could assist individuals as well.
Are certain breeds of dogs better at detecting natural disasters before they strike or are more sensitive to smoke? Do you need to train your pet to react during an emergency?
Certainly breeds differ in their ability to scent, and I would guess that individual dogs differ in their ability to sense. We know that some dogs are used to sense things like seizures in people, so I would say yes. I think training for your animal to respond to you no matter what is crucial. I know that my dog comes when I call, but we are still working on her responding to me when there is another dog around!!
Hi! I've read a lot about pets and flooding, but not so much on earthquakes. I have two cocker spaniels and a cat who hides when she's scared. I'm worried that if there's an earthquake, I won't have time to find them in order to protect them. And when I do find them, what's the best way to protect them? Thanks!
You are right, there is less notice for an earthquake than other types of disasters. But again, it all comes down to proper planning. Work to develop a planif you know where the animals hide, is that a safe area of the house? Or could you set up a nice hiding space where you want them to be? Can you do training with the dogs (and maybe even the cat) so they come when called, regardless? Those things may help to save their lives.
Check your local community to see if they already have an evacuation plan in place. San Bernardino County already had an emergency plan long before Katrina and it worked beautifully during the massive fires of 2003. Volunteer to be a part of the plan by keeping carriers available. We have earthquakes in CA so I always have carriers set up in the garage and house, not folded and ready to goactually set up. As I learned during the Northridge quake, it is imperative to get your pet into a carrier immediately because you will have glass all over your house. You don't have time to set one up. Also during that quake the fences all went down and pets were everywhere. Again, having carriers ready to go means that you can take animals in and look for the owner later. And my neighbors know where they can come to get a carrier if they need one following an earthquake. Just wanted to pass along a little acquired info.
What topics should a community's Animal Disaster Plan cover?
That's a big question. An animal disaster plan goes beyond dogs and cats; it should include horses, livestock, exotic animals and research animals. It should address bioterrorism, animal control and sheltering issues, co-location of human and animal shelters, etc. The fist thing to do is to see if animal issues are addressed in your local emergency plans by contacting the local Office of Emergency Management.
What can I do for a large dog? I read the other topic about pet carriers. Both of my dogs are largeone is 75 lbs, the other is 65 lbs. How do I contain them and help them remain safe? I have never thought to put together an emergency kit. What types of items do I put in this kit?
Great question! First, here are some things to make sure you have prepared in case of emergency:
Medication, vet info, medical & vaccination records, special medical or behavioral instructions (allergies, etc), clear picture of your pet, and a picture of you with your pet to prove ownership. All identification numbers for your pet: tattoo, tag, microchip. List of identifying features. Emergency contact for you of someone outside the disaster area.
Also, a week's worth of food and water, extra collars, leashes, bedding and food and water bowls.
Your large dogs won't fit in a carrier, so you might want to have a long leash, and possibly a muzzle. Trauma shoes may also be a good idea.
What if I am away from home and am not permitted to get back to my home (by officials) to retrieve my pet?
Againit comes down to being prepared. Make sure that before disaster strikes, you have a buddy system with a friend or a neighbor who knows your animals, and can access them if you can't. Make sure that they know where the carriers and leashes, medical records, and other prepared evacuation materials are. It's all about planning ahead.
What if something like Katrina happens and people are forced to leave their animals behind? What should they do to ensure that the animal is safe, provided for while alone, and rescuers can see that there is an animal in the house/apt.?
The best way to avoid this scenario is to plan ahead, and evacuate with your pets. If you have a good plan, then it's unlikely you'll be in this situation. However, some things to keep in mind: remember that if it isn't safe for you, it's not safe for your pet. Never leave your pet outside, or locked in a carrier if you have to leave them behind. Always have a supply of food and water in case of emergencies. Fill the bathtub with water as well.
Hi there. What kind of carrier is conducive to a quick escape? I assume one that is lightweight? Thanks.
A lightweight carrier is certainly good; however, the key is that the carrier must be secure, so that your pet can’t escape and get lost. Another thing to remember is that even if your pet is calm and used to being held, don’t let your pet out of the carrier when traveling with your pet! I have seen far too many animals spook and run off when their human least expects it. For your pet’s own safety, wait until you are in a safe and secure environment before you open the carrier door.