Are You Ready?
|Susan Summerall, director of the Beaufort
County Animal Shelter and Control in South Carolina, relates what happened
in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo demolished miles of coastline only thirty
miles from her shelter.
"Oh no, we were absolutely not prepared. Residents had to evacuate and were told to leave their pets at our shelter. We can only hold about fifty dogs and fifty cats; we took in an additional 200 dogs and cats. We were lucky because we had bought an office building that had not been renovated yet, so we had space with a concrete floor, but no drainage or electricity. I donâ€™t know what we would have done if that space hadnâ€™t been available.
"It never enters your head that you need to collect drinking water for the animals and the staff before the storm."
Disasters can be as diverse as a barn collapse, train derailment, drought, blizzard, explosion, or any situation that leaves animals helpless and without care.
As the animal care facility in your community, people will look to you to care for the animals in and out of your shelter.
You need a plan.
Without a plan for your staff to follow, you stand the chance of losing the support of the community and your donors should a disaster strike and animals die or suffer simply because you were not prepared.
Although devising a plan and training your staff takes time, it is not difficult and could save the lives of the animals and anyone else in your shelter.
To create your plan
Where you can get help
|Ed Cubrda, executive director of the Los
Angeles SPCA, explains what happened the night the riots erupted around
one of their shelters in 1992.
"The morning after the riots started, there were buildings burned down only a few blocks from our shelter, and smoke and soot were in the air, and things were still out of control.
"We created a plan right then, since we didnâ€™t already have one. People from our other shelter drove over in caravan formation for safety and pulled into our parking lot that is secured with iron gates. We loaded up the animals and left together.
"When you try to help spontaneously after a disaster, especially when several agencies are working together for the first time, itâ€™s a real nightmare. Getting the supplies to help the victims is no problem, but distributing it is a big problemâ€”where to store it, who will issue it, who to issue it to.
"You think of fires, floods, etcetera as normal disasters, but riots?"
Before a disaster strikes, contact AHA for forms, training materials, and consultations to help you create a plan.
If disaster does strike, let us know what you need before, during, and after the disaster. We can help provide manpower and find supplies based on their availability and necessity.
AHA has been officially involved in disaster relief since 1916 when the U.S. government asked us to form the Red Star Emergency Animal Relief program to help care for the 400,000 horses used in World War I. When the war ended, AHAâ€™s relief efforts focused on domestic disasters and continues today through our Emergency Animal Relief program.
In 1976, we signed a Letter of Understanding with the American Red Cross establishing us as the primary contact in the U.S. for animal-related disaster relief. Whenever the need arises, AHA serves as the coordinating agency to local shelters for animal supplies and resources.
With our vast disaster experience and nationwide connections with groups like the National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster, U.S. Armed Services, the Pet Food Institute, and the American Veterinary Medical Association, AHA can help you save many animal lives in your community should disaster strike.
To calculate the number of animals who will be affected by a disaster, use these statistics.
|% Households Owning a Pet||Pets per Household|
Source: U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook from the AVMA, 1996.
Copyright Â© American Humane Association