After every catastrophic emergency event, we see photos and read news articles of the pets and livestock suffering from the current disaster, along with us. The events we suffer, our pets do as well, there is one huge difference between being human and being an animal during these evacuations. The large animals, horses, sheep, llama's and other pasture animals are seen on news feeds knee deep in water, or standing with a backdrop of fire or flood.
|They will be OK for a while, soaked hooves may create serious|
problems for them.
The huge difference between humans and pets is humans are allowed in relief shelters and the animals are not. I will not comment on rescuing the large animals, due mainly because I don't know anything about how to do it and I don't want to lead someone astray, my comments will be limited to our pets. I have raised cattle, with my father in law, but that was in the 1970's, I have forgotten almost everything about it with the exception of how much work it was, and how I would compare the 50 animals we had to children. Livestock cannot be left alone in a small pasture, they don't have to be stared at but someone has to be around to make sure everything is OK. As an example, if cattle run out of water, they will go looking for it, outside of the pasture which means broken fences and lost endangered animals. People raising livestock know how to handle them, any help we can offer would be appreciated I am certain of.
We concentrate on human suffering during natural disasters, that is the highest priority of course. The suffering of pets was addressed in the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act in 2006 (PETS) Link. The act requires states that are requesting FEMA assistance to have plans in place to evacuate service animals and pets. It's been found the areas employing a comprehensive pets response plan also responded well to protecting resident livestock during these events. Fewer animals are lost and killed, humans are more apt to evacuate knowing their pets and service animals are being taken care of, many times the evacuated people find shelter for them and their pets. In 1999 Hurricane Floyd was the cause of 2.9 million pet and livestock deaths, many thousands of pets were never found. Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana had 15,500 pets requiring rescue, with 85% not reunited with their owners, ever. (these numbers are from a SPCA estimate.) The situation is getting better, we do actually learn from catastrophes, about 1/2 of high population cities and counties have implemented the needed infrastructure for dealing with animals during one of these events, some employ animal response teams. In smaller counties and cities the numbers are less, about 1/4 of them have a program in force. Smaller rural areas may be more adept at handling animals during confusing and dangerous events, and budget restrictions may also come into play. Sometimes, private citizens set up organizations to handle such situations, it takes time, money and mostly dedication.
|Dogs will form packs, it helps them to survive, a lot like humans.|
I have a neighbor that rescues rabbits, we call her the "bunny lady", she is very dedicated and sincere, just don't tell her any bunny disaster stories. During the rains of last winter (2016-2017) one of the small islands flooded, unknown to most people it was inhabited with rabbits. This island is indeed very small, about 1-1/2 acres, a marina is built on it, the rabbits lived in the spaces below the structures. The rabbits were flooded out, they swam over to our island, I estimate 100-200 animals escaped in that manner. It seems instantly they began giving birth, that was March 2017, since the babies have had baby's and as well as their babies gave birth. We are not inundated yet, but I estimate by January the predators will move in and the cycle will continue. Of the rabbits that swam to safety, they have multiplied to about 300, they are everywhere. We have coyotes on our island, they mainly stay in the open areas and pastures, we can hear them at night. The bunny lady told me some are now becoming the victim of cars on the road, an indication of a big population. All of these rabbits are either the descendants of domesticated animals that have been "dumped" here or they have themselves been set "free" by misguided owners. As most people in rural areas realize, many pet owners take their pets to the country and set them "free", because I guess they figure someone will tend to them. Mostly we do, as with most people, we like animals.
|Coyote is just trying to survive, they just happen to be wild|
That story serves as an example of what may happen to pets during an evacuation event, some people think they can "take care of themselves", they can't. A Lady in Fresno, California founded in 2011 the Central California Animal Disaster Team, Naomi E. Flam is the founder and director. This organization services six counties, Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare, Mariposa and Merced with mutual aid to Kern County and will be available for large-scale events. The organization only deploys to rescue animals during and after natural catastrophic events, the central valley is prone to wildfires. They do collaborate with the local animal control departments, ensuring all legal procedures and laws are followed. They are not available to locate stray or injured animals outside of an emergency, there are exceptions but they are few. follow the link for more information.
We must include our pets in our disaster planning (Link), I know I frequently (a lot actually) encourage disaster planning, include the children (of course) and pets. I have an unmanageable dog, Skunkpuppy, if we have a natural disaster she will panic, in light of that here's some things we can do:
1) Know what disasters your area is prone to, mine, for example, flooding, wildfire (peat underground also), earthquake, and windstorms all causing electrical outages.
2) Have a NOAA weather radio, monitor the local emergency channel, keep up with the weather. The radios are available with or without batteries, some are solar and some are dynamic (crank to power). FEMA has an app that allows us to monitor up to 5 locations throughout the U.S.A. it may be found on their website. Link
3) Ask a neighbor to check on your pets when you are not home, include them in your disaster planning.
4) Find pet-friendly hotels in your area, as well as further away, add the list to your written plan, the local hotels will be packed.
5) Find out if your City or County allows pets in their evacuation centers if so be certain to have a carrier to enable the handling of your animal during a very confusing and frightening situation for them and you.
6) Know where the veterinarian's and pet hospitals are in your area, be certain to add the location in your planning document which each member of the family should carry with them at all times.
7) Micro-chip your pets, then we must make sure to update our information as it changes.
8) Place a photo of every family member with the pets in your planning package, people more readily are able to identify a pet after seeing the owner alongside them.
9) They will need a lot of water, a gallon weighs just under 8-1/2 pounds, recommended by animal rescue groups is a one month supply, but there is no way a person is able to carry that much. Determine how far you may have to walk to an evacuation center, then attempt to estimate how much will be needed.
10) Make sure the animal has an identification tag, name, phone number, and other contact information attached to their collar.
These are a few things we can do as pet owners to plan what to do before and during an event, however, the big problems are experienced after the event. Our pets if left to their own devices will be scared to death, hungry, thirsty and looking for you. In response they will run off and not stop, if they do stay in the area (which most do) they are hiding under destroyed structures, burned out buildings or in wooded areas. If your pet is lost during an event, that photo of your family and the animal will become very valuable.
|Take a photo of the family and pets.|
I experienced the identification problem with a dog that would come to visit me every time he (Tiger) got out of his enclosure, he was a big black Labrador Retriever, he liked it here. The name tag was wrong, I would call and get no answer, then one day it worked. (go figure) The guy on the other end of the phone was not agreeable, he was watching the dog for his daughter and well you know he didn't really want the dog anyway, blah blah blah. He did arraign for Tiger to be picked up, I should have kept the dog, I wish I would have, the people picking him up did not want him either, I thought he was a great dog, I expect him to show up on the levee again, then I will keep him. The point is, there are many people that just simply don't care what happens to their pets. Tiger I hope is safe and being taken care of and not left in a fenced area with no attention.
I am sure more animals will be "dumped" around me, we had a dozen Chihuahua dogs running around the wooded area, they fell prey to predators when they form packs the little dudes are MEAN. I try to take care of the animals any way I can, they all have one thing in common, they are scared to beyond reason, understandably so. They depend on us during the best of times, they really depend on us during trying times.
Thank you for reading and sharing, now is the time to start planning for our pets if we haven't done so yet. I have some major issues to deal with as far as skunkpuppy is concerned, I don't want anything to happen to her, even if she is ornery and unmanageable, after all, I took her on, now she depends on me.