First, let’s talk about what constitutes a “Disaster” or “Emergency” that warrants FEMA’s attention and involvement. Disasters may occur in the form of:
Natural disasters such as wildfires, storms or earthquakes.
Acts of Terror such as a mass shooting, bombing, or the events of 9/11 in New York in 2001.
Technological or Industrial disasters such as a large scale chemical contamination, factory explosion, or a nuclear accident.
With such extreme events that can be catastrophic for humans to worry about, why does FEMA care about the safety of our pets or any other animals?
|I'm glad FEMA cares about me and all the other animals (even those pesky deer) if disaster strikes!|
There are 4 categories that comprise FEMA’s main concern and responsibility. Here’s how animals can impact each category:
Public Safety risk:People may be reluctant to evacuate if they can’t bring their pets with them to safety, or if they can’t locate their pets in the home or on their property when an evacuation order is given. Pets should always be part of your emergency preparedness and evacuation plans!
What if a disaster damaged fencing or cages at a zoo and dangerous animals escaped? What if frightened, displaced wildlife began attacking pets or children out of extreme fear? What if hundreds of shelter dogs escaped and began running wildly in the streets? Zoos, as well as Animal Shelters, need emergency preparedness and evacuation plans in place that include the animals in their care.
|What will become of me and all my shelter friends if disaster strikes?|
The safety of First Responders is also a concern. If they encounter aggressive or fear aggressive pets or other animals, responders must be trained to recognize the signs of aggression and fear in animals and respond accordingly.
Public Health risk:Diseases due to dead animals as a result of a disaster may occur and spread rapidly. Animal diseases that are kept under controlled in normal circumstances, for example Salmonella, may begin to spread more quickly during disasters like flooding or mud slides. Communities need to be prepared to respond to a post disaster scenario like this.
Economic risk:Not only is damage of property a huge cost to individuals, insurance companies, and the local economy, but loss of livestock and farms also have a potentially large impact on local and national productivity. Livestock should be included in disaster preparedness. A plan to shelter and transport these animals should be in place.
|Wildfires raged in Sedona in 2014 near my favorite watering hole. There was so much destruction. We haven't been back yet.|
Protecting wildlife is important for the natural environment and balance. During a disaster, disease and contaminants may be present. This could affect the natural environment, including plants, trees, rivers, and the drinking water supply.
During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of animals needed to be rescued, transported, and sheltered. Sadly, a huge number of displaced pets were never reunited with their families. I will take the opportunity right now to urge everyone to Microchip your pets! A chip can be easily scanned, the family contacted, and the microchipped pet quickly returned home. If a pet isn’t microchipped and their collar with ID tags is lost an owner has to conduct a widespread search on their own. This is difficult enough, but in an emergency situation you never know where your pet may end up. They may even be transported to another state! A pet’s collar is very likely to break off or get lost in the chaos of a disaster.
|We are both microchipped, so Mommy can find us if we got separated during an emergency!|
Following Katrina, the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act and the Emergency Management Reform Act were created. This mandates state and local communities to incorporate provisions in their emergency plans for people with household pets and service animals. State and local governments must now include animals in their disaster plans, with help and support from FEMA.
Many other blogs have discussed disaster preparedness plans that include pets; what to include in an emergency kit and first aid kits. I don’t want to repeat that same information here, so instead I’ll provide links to some excellent resources for you:
Our good friend Carol Bryant, author of Fidose Of Reality wrote a terrific article on Dog Disaster Preparedness for East Coasters (in the U.S.) Embedded in Carol’s post is one by Slim Doggy on Pet Disaster Preparedness for West Coasters These two great posts have you and your pets covered from coast to coast!
Hill’s Food Shelter & Love’s Disaster Relief Network created 7 Tips To Ensure Your Pet’s Safety In An Emergency Get their Info Graphic on how to be #PetPrepared from Hill's Pet Nutrition and their Food Shelter and Love program. They help animal shelters in need when disaster strikes!
Also check out Hill’s Disaster Relief Network’s Pet Safety Tips for emergencies.
In my Friday post, I’ll talk more about how a disaster or emergency situation can effect your pets during and after the emergency. Come back & see us on Friday!
Do you have a disaster preparedness plan in place that includes your pets? Where will you take your pet in the event of an evacuation? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with us, we love hearing from you!