Thursday, January 8, 2015

Amazing animal survival stories from wildfires

Of course you should never leave your animals behind in a disaster zone, but sometimes there really is no choice. For example, what if you are away from home when there is a wildfire and you are not allowed back in? That is a good reason to have a key hidden and maybe arrangements with a neighbor to rescue your babies if a fire is approaching. But this is not an article about how to cover every contingency. This is about remarkable animals who survived on their own.

For example, a horse flagged down a fire engine during the High Park wildfire. You can see a snippet from a newscast with a photo of the horse.

A Colorado State University news release on students caring for High Park fire evacuees at the Ranch details a remarkable story about a donkey:
“Two companion donkeys came in, and after talking to a neighbor who knows them, he is convinced the one dominant donkey kept the group of two donkeys and four draft horses safe,” [a veterinary staff person] said. “One of the volunteer haulers who brought this group in told me this herd was standing in a lush green meadow, and when they arrived, the lead donkey with singed whiskers walked up to him and laid his head into his chest."
It is wonderful to hear these stories out of High Park after so much has been lost. A lesson after Katrina was many found the number one thing they cared about was the safety of their family and animals. After that came homes, possessions and jobs.
Shelter workers in New Mexico (Little Bear fire) report "We found a hunting dog in midtown that they think had run 20 miles .”

Then there was the case of a cat discovered burned, but alive, under a rock after the 2010 Boulder fire. In a stunning coincidence, a Denver woman considering adopting the cat discovered "Sizzles" was her missing cat!

Cats in particular have a special ability to survive what would seem to be an inescapable fire. If your home burns, you should look for evidence that your cat may have escaped. Of course sometimes cats hide and do not live, but other times they escape through a broken window or somehow access the crawlspace. Do not give up hope on your animal until you know there is no hope. Maybe your hound ran 20 miles and is safe and sound!

This is the place to find out information on animal evacuations and disaster animal relief in the US. You can subscribe and have articles e-mailed to you immediately on publication by clicking here.

Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via FaceBook, Twitter,Pinterest and other social media. There are convenient links to the left of the article.

Most states are unprepared to help animals in a disaster

JUNE 3, 2012 How confident are you that your state will step up to help with animal rescue and animal evacuation in case of a disaster? Well, unless you live in one of 14 states, chances are your state government is not even thinking about it.

Those 14 states have formed teams to help out with animals during a disaster. The teams often use the naming convention "State Animal Response Team" (SART). A SART sometimes includes a smaller unit called a "Community or County Animal Response Team" (CART).

Many SARTs are coalitions. Their state has partnered with non-profits who have experience in animal rescue. In some cases these may not be robust fully functioning units, but at least the outline of a structure is in place. (The exception is Louisiana's SART which is by far the best in the country.)

Other states have either not thought about what happens to animals during a disaster or they have disbanded their animal response team. What happened to the Texas State Animal Response Team (TXSART)? When I checked the TXSART website, it now supports Texas art!

In some cases, there may be an animal organization in the state that has nominated itself the SART. That organization may be able to step up and function well in an emergency. But if the state does not acknowledge the partnership on their website, they are not listed below. No mention by the state would indicate, at a minimum, a lack of communication with their "SART."

Following is a list of the only states who have official "State Animal Response Teams." This list was compiled by researching the official state website and finding if they linked to any organization as their SART. This is the only list of SARTs on the Internet, which may be taken as an indication of how lightly they are regarded. If your state is not listed below, write your state legislator. A team needs to be in place and easily found on the state website before a disaster shows how badly an animal response team is needed.
  • Connecticut CTSART (Coalition) Connecticut State Animal Response Team
  • Florida FL-SARC (Coalition) Florida State Animal Response Coalition
  • Indiana SAVE (estab. 1995) State Annex for Veterinary Emergencies
  • Louisiana LSART Louisiana State Animal Response Team
  • Michigan MISART (Coalition) Michigan State Animal Response Team
  • Mississippi MART Mississippi Animal Response Team
  • New Jersey AEWG (Coalition) Animal Emergency Working Group
  • New York ESART Empire State Animal Response Team
  • North Carolina NCSART (Coalition) North Carolina Animal Response Team
  • Pennsylvania PASART (Coalition) Pennsylvania Animal Response Team
  • Rhode Island RIDART Rhode Island Animal Response Team
  • Tennessee DART (Coalition) Disaster Animal Response Team
  • Virginia VASART (Coalition) Virginia State Animal Response Team
  • Washington WASART Washington State Animal Response Team

Here is a list with links to the SART websites.
This is the place to find out information on animal evacuations and disaster animal relief in the US. You can subscribe and have articles e-mailed to you immediately on publication by clicking here.
Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via FaceBook, Twitter,Pinterest and other social media. There are convenient links to the left of the article.

You can buy animal evacuation kits already assembled

With the national trend to evacuate with your dogs and cats (National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day is May 12), companies are trying to make it easier by selling pre-packaged kits that include what you need to grab and go with your dog or cat
There are several different models and companies.

Ready America sells a dog kit and a cat kit. Both kits are soft crates filled with a variety of supplies. You put your small dog or your cat in the crate and take the supplies with you. In this kit, you get food and some first aid supplies along with other items.

Save Your Pet has dog or cat backpacks for people to wear which include a long list of items (a flea comb for example) and a well stocked first aid kit. Of course you would have to provide a crate. Their site also lists how to customize the kit if you are preparing for a specific emergency such as an earthquake.

Lastly, QuakeKare has complete kits in bags for dogs, cats and even multiple dogs.
These grab and go disaster kits are not listed in any particular order. Each is different enough that they fit different needs. If you have crates or have a big dog, chances are you don't need a soft crate. If you are carrying your own backpack, you won't want a separate pack for your cat!
Whether you are a "prepper" (some kits have water purification tablets) or just someone looking for the perfect welcome gift for a new kitten or puppy, buying a pre-packed kit is the simplest way to start your animal evacuation preparations.
This is the place to find out information on animal evacuations and disaster animal relief in the US. You can subscribe and have articles e-mailed to you immediately on publication by clicking here.
Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media.

How to use FaceBook to help people and animals in a disaster

Cathi Petterson
  • Look for or create a FaceBook page to help your area recover.
  • This FaceBook page should be a “Community page,” which means that an unlimited number of people may participate after “liking” the page. Although a “group page” may sound more like what is needed, group pages are private pages and members must be approved. (A group page could work in tandem with a large community page, letting the admins talk in private.)
  • The best name for the page will include -in this order - the community name, the disaster, and then something about animals, for example: "Smallville Tornado Animal Relief" or Smallville Tornado Animal Lost & Found." This allows people who are not in animal rescue to easily find your page when searching on the Smallville Tornado.
  • Volunteers should identify other FaceBook pages helping with all aspects of the relief effort and post your FaceBook page on them as well as adding your FaceBook address to the comments pages on online newspaper articles and blogs about animals in the disaster and social media and the disaster.
  • FaceBook is ideal for networking animal rescue groups, authorities and those who have lost and found animals. However it is not very good for keeping lost and found animals in view, because the FaceBook Wall is constantly renewed, pushing the latest information to the top. The photo album feature is not very robust and cannot be accessed from a smart phone.
  • setting up a weekend event for people who have lost and found animals to meet with local animal rescue
  • coordinate keeping animals in the area and tracking their locations - this is key to doing reunions
  • recruiting volunteers to do leaflets and posters for people shelters in the first few days after the disaster -before people disperse- so those who have lost their housing will know who to tell about their missing animals
  • facilitate the collection and delivery of crates and food to people who lost their homes
  • identify areas where strays can be fed and trapped.

After a disaster, people turn to the social media to help. This is a way for people who are not in the area to lend aid to their “neighbors.”

Because FaceBook and Twitter and the other online media are relatively new, the best way they can be used after a disaster is still under construction; but here are some observations on how FaceBook can be used to help animals and their families.

A way to get around this is to use Flickr in tandem with a FaceBook page or pages (cooperation rather than competition among various pages is ideal.) Flickr is a very good way to keep photos of animals available for viewing. It has a robust tagging system that allows searching on combinations of breed and color. Here is an example of a Flickr page from the Joplin tornado.
Pinterest is becoming very popular very fast. Because it is graphics based, it might be good for this purpose. The only problem is Pinterest does not work with FaceBook. Any animal photos would have to be uploaded, rather than "pinned" through a URL. Nevertheless, it is a task you can probably find eager volunteers to do. Here is a lost dog page on Pinterest.)
FaceBook pages work best when there are not a lot of restrictions on posting. They are more likely to be lively and useful when policing is only used to keep people on topic, but not to tell them how to post. It is very important to allow links! FaceBook has robust spam filters these days and if people are posting inappropriate photos or comments, the best way to handle that is delete without comment. If you react by shutting down your page or cutting down posting privelages, they win. Having said that, if a page gets too popular, it may have to be shut down during hours when there is no admin available because many so many spammers post that some get past the filter. This usually is a problem at the 100K user mark and you should not aspire for some many users. There is such a thing as too much traffic!
You may see a page with many thousand members, but very few posters. These pages do not encourage networking. The volume of posts and the variety of people posting tells you more about the effectiveness of the page than the number of “Likes.”
Ideally a page covers a single affected community, which is not too large an area. Because communications are disrupted after a disaster, at least one person with admin privileges should be from outside the area - preferably a former resident. It is also necessary to have an admin who is boots on the ground and who works in animal rescue.
A successful page is very much a team effort. (For some reason a number of pages have had problems with rogue admins, so do not give admin privileges to someone you just met. It is OK to accept help, just make it on a volunteer basis without access to edit the page.)
Some ideas on how to use your page beyond reporting lost and found animals are:
Another great resource, which stresses the amount of time you will expend in your volunteer effort, is an article by an expert in social media who created a very useful FaceBook page to help Joplin residents after their tornado. Although the article is about a page geared toward helping people, it is valuable reading for anyone wanting to help through social media.

It is a daunting task to run a FaceBook page while helping out with animal rescue in the midst of a disaster – but it is so necessary. After Katrina, many people stated the most important things to them were there family and their animals. Possessions came third; so if you are helping animals, you are helping people heal.