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“With every animal comes a person. And if you don’t take care of the animal, you’re leaving the person behind as well.”
Those are the words of SPCA Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) Director Connie Brooks as she talks to us this week in a special CB2 video blog on pet disaster preparedness. After learning that Connie lived just a few miles away from my office in St. Petersburg, FL, I invited her to speak about her job during this 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
I learned that after Hurricane Katrina, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) was enacted into law to require pets and service animals to be part of evacuation plans for residents. I’m sure all of us know at least one person that wouldn’t evacuate their home if they had to leave their pet behind, which unfairly condemns both the person and their pet. With better planning in effect 5 years later, we have come a long way toward making sure nobody is forced to make that kind of decision again.
GovLoop pet owners – what can YOU do today to make sure your pet is prepared for a disaster? Connie recommends that your pet be up to date on his or her vaccinations, have a two week supply of medication, have extra food in place and identify a spot on high ground to go to in an emergency. She also stresses having a Plan B so you always have another option.
Businesses (government offices included), make sure your employees have a disaster plan not only for themselves but also for their pets. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that includes who will back up computers or answer the phones is worthless without a plan for how those employees will be safe and prepared themselves.
In the end, just be a good neighbor. Look out for your friends, co-workers and the elderly and offer to help them (and their pets) in a crisis if they cannot help themselves. For more information, check out the websites of Bay Area DART, the Humane Society, and the SPCA.
On an important closing note, readers in North Carolina northward (that includes you, DC) should pay close attention to Hurricane Earl this week. This major hurricane will bring strong winds, rain, flooding and rip currents to the east coast. I’ve set up a special page to watch Earl here: http://bit.ly/hurricane-earl
Website of the Week: 5 Years Later by USA Today
USA Today has done a great job creating a powerful Katrina reflection with multiple videos looking at the storm and the rebuilding of New Orleans. Spend a few minutes checking it out.
Read Last Week’s CB2: QR Codes for Crisis Response
About Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.
What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.
Great interview, Chris – a new way of thinking about disaster preparedness that I had not heard before.
This posts reminded me of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the fact that the animals seemed to sense in advance what was coming…and ran to higher ground. Had humans been more attuned or paid more attention to their pets and animals, they would have evaded that calamity.
Thanks Andy. I didn’t know about that tsunami case – pretty amazing.
Very important topic and now I can blame Chris fro making me want a dog.
I think I can handle the blame for that. SPCA always has plenty for adoption. Puck is proof 🙂
Great post. Going to make sure this goes wide…and local (not sure what our plan is in our town, and we flood a LOT).
Good for our 2 cats…Eli and Ricky say thanks.
Good post. I remember a presentation by Bill Waugh, a former US Army “first responder” and emergency management expert at Georgia State University ([email protected]), in which he shared his views on the comparative culture aspects of caring for pets during a disaster. Having grown up in the rural South, his family was in the minority by relating to pets as their “children” – members of the family, not just animals co-habiting the farmstead. BTW, for more on related lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, check out The Public Manager Fall 2007 issue (Volume 36, Number 3) and the upcoming Fall 2010 issue (Volume 39, Number 3) which examines community resielnce 5 years after Katrina (http://www.thepublicmanager.org). Warren Master – President & Editor-in-Chief, The Public Manager.
Thanks Warren. Will check out the link.