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Hurricane Gustav: Animal groups help care for evacuated pets

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 6:41 am in Animal rescue Organizations, Disasters, Pets.

Even as humans were being evacuated from sections of Louisiana that were hit by Hurricane Gustav, national nonprofit animal organizations were already rushing into the state to help their pets.

I received the following press releases over the weekend:

“Our entire animal rescue team has been put on standby to deploy at a moment’s notice if our assistance is needed,” said Scotlund Haisley, senior director of Emergency Services at The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States has deployed a core team of responders today to begin transporting our specially equipped disaster response vehicles and rescue boat to the Gulf Coast.”

The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) in New Orleans and a number of other humane organizations in the Gulf Coast region made the decision to evacuate their animals early. Others are expected to follow suit as Gustav approaches. The HSUS has sent animal transport vehicles from both D.C. and Florida to be available for evacuation assistance on Saturday.

The HSUS has called upon members of the National Disaster Animal Response Team (NDART) to be sure they are ready in the event of a deployment. NDART volunteers serve as resources for individuals, animal-related organizations, government agencies and others concerned about the urgent needs of animals before, during and after disasters. The HSUS often uses this valuable resource to supplement its own animal rescue team when faced with a large-scale disaster.

The ASPCA has deployed a team of disaster response experts to assist the state of Louisiana in pre- and post-storm evacuation and sheltering in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav. Louisiana state officials have declared a pre-storm State of Emergency, and Gustav is a Category 3 Hurricane that could make landfall as early as Monday morning, Sept. 1.

“We have received numerous requests for assistance from local parish shelters and other animal welfare organizations in Louisiana,” said Sandy Monterose, the ASPCA’s Senior Director of Community Outreach.  “We are working closely with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team to assist and provide resources.”

Members of the ASPCA disaster response team arrived at the site of the Louisiana Mega Shelter in Shreveport, La. on Friday, August 29. One disaster response trailer, being driven by other ASPCA team members, will arrive on Saturday. The ASPCA also contacted its partner agency, the Saranac Technical Rescue Team, to be on standby for post-storm activity. Currently, the ASPCA team is involved in sheltering efforts on the ground and is working to coordinate evacuation of local animal shelters.

Press release, Monday, Sept. 1: ASPCA: As of Monday morning the ASPCA was helping to care for more than 800 pets belonging to evacuees of Gustav, with ASPCA teams working in tandem with other humane organizations in 12-hour shifts.

Press release, Sat., Aug. 30: BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY
Amid reports that some families boarding evacuation buses are not being allowed to take their pets aboard unless they are in proper pet carriers, Best Friends Animal Society rushed 3,000 of the carriers to Terrebone, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes in New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav headed for the city.

“It’s unfortunate, but many people forget to prepare for natural disasters by keeping a carrier handy for easy pet transport,” said Rich Crook, rapid response manager for Best Friends and a veteran of Best Friends’ six-month deployment in 2005 to rescue animals during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Our team will rush in 3,000 carriers tonight to supplement immediate needs at evacuation centers and we’ll get more tomorrow as needed,” said Crook. “This is looking like a very serious storm, much more powerful than Katrina, and people need all possible help to make sure their pets are out of harm’s way.”

Once the storm passes. Best Friends rapid response personnel, depending on weather conditions, will focus from evacuation support to recovery and rescue.

Other animal agencies helping in the Hurricane Gustave effort included United Animal Nations, Code 3, American Humane Association, International Fund for Animal welfare, Noah’s Wish, plus Louisiana state and local parish shelters, such as the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) and the Louisiana SPCA.

As you can see, the animal groups learned a LOT from dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Nice going, guys! /Gary

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No Responses to “Hurricane Gustav: Animal groups help care for evacuated pets”

  1. Kirk Balcom Says:

    I’m trying to locate a white 24# Cocker/Shiu Tzu mix for a woman in an evac shelter in Kingsport, Tennesse. She was separated from her at the last minute while trying to board her bus for evac to the airport, then to Knoxville. The documentation is from Jefferson Parish Louisiana Animal Shelter Division and she is from Marrero. The pet # is SOL104003-hs, dated 08-30-08. I can be reached at 703 867-1366. I am a Red Cross Dept. of Mental Health volunteer in Tennessee. Thank you, Kirk Balcom

  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    I forwarded a copy of your comments to HSUS and ASPCA headquarters and asked them to please check with their people in the hurricane area to see if they can come up with info on the missing Shiu Tzu. They said they’d contact me if they find out anything and I’ll pass it along to you if they do. Cross your fingers. /Gary

  3. Alexis Says:

    Thanks for writing about this issue, Gary. The evacuation plan in place for people and pets in advance of Hurricane Gustav was quite amazing. United Animal Nations had several Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers working in New Orleans to move people with pets out of the city. We hope that this process can serve as a model for other communities working to implement an evacuation plan for pets!

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