Vol 9 No 3


Summer 2007

Front Page

Features in this Issue:

No Pets Left Behind

Emergency First Aid

Thank You

Fond Farewells

Letters to GRRI-NJ

GRRI NEWS Archives

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The GRRI News

No Pets Left Behind

Hurricane Logo Trees

Storm surges…high winds…tornadoes…flooding

"Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy."

Before we know it, hurricane season will be upon us.  A hurricane is defined as a severe tropical storm that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean, or the South Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes need warm tropical waters, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves (storm surge), torrential rains and floods. The hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th.

Professor William M. Gray, forecaster with the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science, is predicting a very active hurricane season this year.  He claims that there will be 17 storms and 9 hurricanes in 2007.  Five of those 9 hurricanes will be very intense, with sustained winds greater than 111 miles per hour.1

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, it became obvious that many state and local government agencies did not have adequate disaster preparedness plans in place to accommodate the sheltering and/or rescue of displaced families with pets.  Thousands of people were forced to evacuate, leaving behind their beloved pets to fend for themselves.  Some refused to leave after being told their pet(s) were not welcome in the rescue vehicles or makeshift emergency shelters.  They chose to risk their lives in order to stay with their beloved pet(s), creating a public safety issue.

Day after day, news programs aired heartbreaking film clips of terrified dogs and cats clinging to floating debris or swimming desperately in the murky, black, toxic flood waters.  Emergency response teams, rescue groups and volunteers from across the nation headed to the flood ravaged area in an attempt to help in any way they could.  While many animals perished, many were saved.  Some of them were fortunate enough to be reunited with their family, while others were re-homed after it was determined that their caregivers had either perished during the storm, were unable to re-claim them because they were left homeless, or were never found.  More heartbreaking were those pets that were evacuated with their families, only to be surrendered later to shelters and rescue groups when they realized they had no home to return to.

AnieAnie and her former dad fled New Orleans prior to Hurricate Katrina's destruction.
Anie was surrendered to GRRI after her "dad" discovered his home had been destroyed.

To ensure that this horrendous situation would never be repeated, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 (PETS Act).  President Bush signed it into law on October 6, 2006.

This bill states that in order for a State or local government to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding, they are required to submit a plan that details their disaster preparedness program.  This plan must include how they will accommodate households with pets or service animals during and following a major disaster or emergency.  (Editor’s note: a service animal is defined as any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.)

Additionally, federal funding may be made available for the procurement, construction, leasing or renovating of emergency shelter facilities and materials that will be used for the purpose of housing people with pets and service animals.

What would you do if you were faced with an emergency of your own?  Would you be ready?  Your pet(s) depend on you.  It is up to every person who shares their life with a pet to plan responsibly for their well being and safety.

Are You Ready?

  • Could you find your pet(s) and safely secure them in carriers or crates?  Don't forget to bring their leash(es), blanket(s), and a favorite toy.  Most emergency evacuation shelters will only allow pets if they are confined in crates.

  • Does your pet(s) wear a collar with an ID tag that states their name, your name, address, phone number, and possibly a cell phone number?

  • Does your pet(s) have a microchip implanted to provide a more permanent form of identification in the event he/she gets lost or separated from you and ends up in a shelter?

  • Do you have a list of current medications(s), if required, for your pet(s)?  Can you quickly pack your pet's medication(s) into a waterproof container?

  • Do you have a current file with all of your pet's vaccination/titer records?

  • Do you have a current photograph of your pet(s) in case one gets lost or in case you have to prove the pet is yours?  Can you provide a detailed description of your pet(s)?

  • Do you know where you would go in an emergency?  Do you know where pet friendly hotels/motels are located?  Do you know where your local emergency shelter is located?

  • Do you have your veterinarian's phone number on your list of emergency contacts in case your pet becomes ill?

  • Do you have a minimum of at least 5 days of bottled water and food for your pet(s)?

If you're not home when a disaster strikes, have you:

  • Made arrangements for another family member or trusted friend to rescue your pet(s)?

  • Decided on a designated meeting location or a way to get in contact with each other?

  • Placed a "Pet Rescue Sticker" on your door notifying people that there are pets in your home?  Visit the ASPCA website to order your free sticker today.

REMEMBER: If it's not safe for you to remain in your home, then it's not safe for your pet(s) to remain there either.

DO NOT leave your pet(s) behind, even if you think you'll be gone for only a short period of time.  During an emergency situation, circumstances change and you may not be permitted to return to your home to retrieve your pet(s).

If you decide to remain in your home and NOT to evacuate,

  • DO NOT leave your pet(s) outdoors during an emergency; keep them with you.  It isn't safe to leave them outdoors to fend for themselves.  Additionally, pets can become disoriented and frightened and wander away from home.

  • Do you have a "safe" room in your home where you can place all your emergency supplies and set up your crate(s)?

  • Is it large enough to accommodate your family and all of your pets?

  • Do you have enough non-perishable food and bottled water in your home to last 5 days?

After a Disaster

  • If you have to leave town after a disaster, take you pet(s) with you.  Pet(s) are unlikely to survive on their own.

  • In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pet(s) when they go outside.  Always maintain close contact.  Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet(s) may become confused and lost.  Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may have been brought into the area as a result of flooding.  Downed power lines are also a hazard.

  • The behavior of your pet(s) may change after an emergency.  A normally quiet and friendly pet may become aggressive or defensive.  Watch your pet(s) closely.

The Humane Society of the United States has an excellent Disaster Preparedness for Pets brochure which is downloadable from their website.

Sources: Humane Society of the United States, Federal Emergency Management Agency, ASPCA, U.S. Government Animal Law, Colorado State University.

1 The Tropical Meteorology Project, Colorado State University Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and U.S. Landfall Strike Probability for 2007 - updated April 3, 2007