Saturday, August 27, 2011

What to do with Man’s Best Friend, if a disaster strikes

Disasters strike at any time and in many forms, sometimes with warning, oftentimes without. Luckily this most recent of hurricanes is giving weather watchers some much needed information on how, when, where and what her potential track might be. It seems that Hurricane Irene is wagging her angry tail in the direction of the whole East Coast and this not so friendly shake is spraying massive rain and wind up and down the Eastern corridor.

CT’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy has launched a State run web site to help assist residents in getting the most up-to-date information on Hurricane Irene’s angry bite and how to residents can prepare if she becomes unleashed.

So where will Fido or Fluffy end up if we, their human care-takers need to evacuate our homes?
The Malloy web site instructs pet parents to be prepared but it does not list specific locations where our beloved best friends can be temporarily housed. It instead instructs pet parents to have a list of pet friendly accommodations and recommends an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) video and a list of items needed for short term off property housing for our companion critters.
The link on the Governor Malloy web site has a pretty good leash on disaster preparedness recommendations as do others like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)  and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS),

Currently our faithful fur balls and feathered friends are not allowed in most human evacuation shelters unless the municipality where you reside has specifically set up a co-located (or co-habitated) evacuation shelter which either includes pets or has created a separate location for pets only.
Now when I refer to pets, this definition of what a companion animal is can vary from town to town and most only include domestic pets such as cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, small mammals (rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and mice), reptiles and fish. Pet friendly evacuation shelters also include service animals and those pets recognized by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), but then again those animals are allowed to be housed along with their guardians wherever they are as well as at American Red Cross shelters.

Livestock and other large animals are temporarily sheltered at the discretion of the municipality, while exotics, feral or wild animals, poisonous or dangerous animals are not allowed at pet friendly evacuation shelters. Don’t expect your local animal control department to temporarily house or rescue your pets, their focus will be on the homeless and impounded shelter animals already in their charge, responding to injured animal emergencies or managing the co-located evacuation shelter.

To learn more about how many CT municipal animal control departments are working on disaster preparedness plans for our pampered pets, please visit the CT’s State Animal Response Team (CT-SART) web site and see how, when a disaster strikes you too can become involved in your region, helping animals.

If Hurricane Irene decides to roam the streets of Connecticut, you will find me responding to help out our most vulnerable of furry, feathered and reptiled friends; as I am a team member of CT-SART, Region One.

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