This time of year, much focus is placed in the media on hurricanes and other natural disasters, and soon winter weather will be arriving for much of the country. As such, many communities are focusing on disaster preparedness and awareness – and it’s an opportune time to not only make sure you have a plan, but also as dog experts to help your community be proactive.
In 2005, no federal laws existed that required animals be evacuated or sheltered during a natural disaster emergency. Instead of abandoning their pets, many owners put their and their pet’s lives in peril by riding out the storm, and its aftermath, in flood- and wind-damaged homes.
In response, Congress passed the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (P.E.T.S.) Act in 2006. P.E.T.S., in part, directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator to ensure that state and local emergency plans take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency. In turn, many states passed laws that address disaster evacuation, relocation, and sheltering planning with pets.
Additionally, local Emergency Management teams are now required by Federal Law to have readiness plans and resources available to help citizens and their pets in the event of a disaster. To assist with these efforts, AKC Reunite created the AKC Pet Disaster Relief program, which helps local Emergency Management provide animal care services immediately following a disaster, including Pet Disaster Relief trailers.
Take the time to learn what the policies are in your state and community. You may also want to consider how you and your club, as dog experts, can help your community prepare. Visit AKC’s web site for some ideas on how dog owners can prepare for potential storms and natural disasters. Consider submitting op-eds or suggestions in local newspapers and social media sites. If your community has fall festivals, consider hosting a booth and providing information on disaster preparedness and responsible dog ownership. If you see state or local lawmakers highlighting the issue of disaster preparedness, reach out and offer to work with them.
You may also wish to consider donating an AKC Reunite disaster relief trailer in your community. The AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailer is stocked with essential supplies to house at least 65 pets the critical first few days after a disaster is declared. The trailer has crates, pet carriers, bowls, collars and leashes, microchips, a microchip scanner, fans, cleaning supplies, maintenance equipment, administrative supplies, training materials and much more to allow emergency personnel to put together co-location or lost-and-found pet shelters.
If you and your club are interested in sponsoring a trailer for your community, you can learn more here. You can view a list of trailers already in deployment here. And should your club decide to donate, be sure to let your lawmakers know and invite them to the event when the trailer is delivered.
These are just a few examples of ways you can be proactive this fall in letting community officials know of your dedication to the dogs in your area, and that you and your club are the dog experts. They are easy, positive actions you can take to provide a tangible benefit to dogs and your community. And remember, with whatever dog activities and projects your clubs do this fall, be sure to notify your local lawmakers. AKC GR can help you if assistance is needed in contacting them. Establishing these relationships now will prove essential should you need to work with these lawmakers in the future on canine legislation.