Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why FEMA Cares About Pet Safety In Emergencies

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the U.S., has the responsibility of assisting local governments in mitigating risk, and recovering from large scale disasters and emergencies.  So why should they care about our pets, or any other animals, in the event of a disaster?

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?   
 
Pets should be a part of your disaster and emergency preparedness plans
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.
 
Animal shelters and zoos should include the animals in their care in disaster and emergency preparedness plans
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.


In the event of a disaster or emergency, animals and the environment can be at risk.  Local authorities should be prepared to address these issues
Wildfires raged in Sedona in 2014 near my favorite watering hole.  There was so much destruction.  We haven't been back yet.
Environmental concerns:
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.
 
Microchipping your pets becomes even more critical in the event of an emergency or 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!
 

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!

16 comments:

  1. Oh i've never heard of FEMA before. Interesting!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. It's the federal emergency management arm of the U.S. government. They are on hand to help local governments during events such as Hurricane Katrina, massive wild fires & earthquakes, and other large scale emergencies and disasters. They also pro-actively work with local governments to provide training, information, and support prior to disasters & emergencies to help local governments be prepared for such events. Amazing organization. Thanks for stopping by Jenna@

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  2. Great information, Cathy! I didn't know FEMA had done this but it makes a lot of sense and it makes me feel better knowing that pets aren't going to be overlooked during a crisis event.

    Just a reminder also to make sure your information is up to date with the registry of your dog's microchip if you move or change phone numbers. It's time I finally put that disaster plan/kit together!

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  3. This is great information and I love the other resources you provided. Great to keep in mind as we are looking at some not so great weather here in WNY this weekend.

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  4. Very good article with important information. Let's hope we never need it, but be prepared just in case.

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  5. Excellent info. I knew about FEMA but not the various designations or further details.

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  6. I don't remember the name of it but I watched a documentary on the displaced pets after Katrina and it was heartbreaking. I never realized what a cluster it really is when disaster strikes; it's absolutely terrifying. Glad to see PETS was created to help make our pets part of the plan.

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  7. Great info and a good reminder. I am not sure if Canada has similar but will now look into it. Kilo was microchipped just before I started fostering him. You think "it won't happen to me" but it can.

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  8. So important. Having dogs only, I think we are in a pretty good shape. But if he had horses or other large animals, those one cannot load in the truck and take along. We'd have to do much more emergency planning.

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  9. This is such an interesting concept. I didn't even think of the reasons you listed as to why FEMA should help pets also. I'd definitely be one of those people who'd stay back and die with my animals if I couldn't take them with me. I just saw the movie San Andreas yesterday, which is about what would possibly happen if the San Andreas fault shifted. At the end, there was a glimpse of a man with his dog, and they were getting help. Brought a smile to my face! I'm glad FEMA is on board.

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  10. It is great that FEMA takes animal lives so seriously. Pets and other animals are an important part of how we function as a species. We could never live on this planet alone. Great information!
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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  11. Truth be told, I never really thought about the impact animals had on disaster preparedness.

    I mean we always knew what to with OURS if a disaster struck, and have our gear ready in case we needed to evacuate, but never thought about livestock or zoos.

    This is great information!

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  12. We know all about FEMA here, having to evacuate twice for potential flood. Great post and thanks for spreading the word.

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  13. I REALLY need to get my disaster kit organized (for myself and my dog!) I think it is great FEMA is involved for disasters and I think we, the humans with pets and animals, do need to take responsibility too.

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  14. These are really great resources. You post really had me thinking about being better prepared and having a plan.

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  15. Wow! This was a great article! Sharing!

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