Animal Disaster Relief
edited: Saturday, September 03, 2005
By Diana L. Guerrero
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, September 03, 2005
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Government forecasters predicted that the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season would be worse than average. Colorado State University also forecasted at least three "severe" hurricanes this season. As the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolds, animal expert Diana L. Guerrero shares tips on how to help animal disaster victims and how to prevent the same thing from happening to your family and pets.
San Bernardino, California September 3, 2005 -- Yesterday, the phone rang at the California home office of author and animal disaster preparedness specialist, Diana L. Guerrero. Distraught victims of Hurricane Katrina were calling for help for the many animal survivors they were unable to access. People also called to offer their properties and homes to pets and animals in need. Guerrero put them in communication with the right contacts and then took action.
Guerrero, a resident of the San Bernardino Mountains, is the author of the booklet, "Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals" and is one of the contributing editors to "Resources for Crisis Management in Zoos and Other Animal Care Facilities, Volume I." Guerrero is currently working on project on crisis management scheduled for release in the summer of 2006.
In addition to her written works, she holds numerous certifications in the animal disaster field from groups such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She has also worked with many of the nation's animal disaster rescue groups and said that is how the disaster survivors have been finding her.
Guerrero said, "In any disaster, if a situation is unsafe for humans it is unsafe for animals. Animals are not usually allowed in human emergency shelters due to health precautions and limited space and people were frantically calling for help because their animals were denied entry into human facilities. Most didn’t think it was necessary to evacuate and they didn’t prepare ahead of time.”
Her animal disaster booklet, now in the seventh edition, offers tips to prepare prior to a disaster, how to form or get involved in a animal disaster preparedness network, and what items to include in kits for dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Guerrero also includes tip sheets for behavior, identification, health, diet, and sanitation for multiple species during and after disasters.
In the booklet, she stresses that contacting local animal shelters and other animal service agencies in advance of a disaster is a critical preparedness step. The minimum distance she recommends for establishing a network is from fifty to one hundred miles away. She also says people have to plan to evacuate with their pets and have the supplies on hand to care for them.
One of many team leaders for animal rescue after hurricane Georges, Guerrero has first hand experience about what is going on in the disaster zones.
"My heart goes out to the many hurricane survivors. There are animal rescue crews in place but the complexity of the situation goes beyond normal relief efforts due to the magnitude of the destruction and the numbers of victims involved. This disaster is a reminder to the nation that nobody can be complacent about disaster preparedness. Americans need to quit being apathetic about the risks in their areas and prepare.”
Her booklet also includes sections on post disaster animal behavior along with a valuable list of resources for the pet owner including animal disaster agencies, where to get training, and suppliers of kits and equipment.
Guerrero’s top tips are:
1. Develop a plan in advance and take your pets with you. You will not usually be allowed to go back and get them.
2. Have identification and veterinary records in your crisis evacuation kits for your family and pets.
3. Use waterproof buckets or containers for your items so you can grab them and go. Later they can be used for water storage.
4. Pay attention to directives from your local emergency agencies to avoid putting yourself and rescue personnel at additional risk.
Guerrero concluded, “People forget to include their animals in their plans. And no matter how much you prepare you can never really brace yourself for the wreckage a disaster creates in your life or the life of those that you love."
Readers interesting in donating to Hurricane Katrina disaster animal rescue groups can do so via the direct links at http://www.arkanimals.com. The hurricane pet page also allows disaster victims to connect with the animal rescue groups in their area and contains updates from zoos and other pet agencies in the disaster zone.
Web Site: Diana L. Guerrero: Author, Speaker, Animal Expert
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|Reviewed by Cynthia Borris
Thanks again for another information article. As a foster parent for abandoned animals, I'm active in supporting the individuals and agencies assisting the animals. Everyone is stepping to the plate and giving beyond expectations. The Internet boards are bursting with help for people, pets, housing, gift of airline tickets...What a great country!