I don’t need to tell my loyal readers I’ve been away from the computer for the last week or so because you already know. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the 13th, 14th, and 15th of March, I was in a Humane Society for the United States Disaster Animal Response Team Training. This seminar taught how to set teams up in local communities to respond to animals in disasters. This was a companion class to the one I took last year called Emergency Animal Sheltering which taught participants how to set up an emergency shelter. Here is a list of disaster classes coming up around the country. Please take them if you have the time and money the information you get is invaluable.
The class consisted of about 30 people; 29 women to one man ratio. The majority of the participants were in humane work: they work for shelters or have their own set up. Animal control officers, vet techs, CERT team members, and a couple laypersons such as myself were also in attendance. Of course everyone was an animal lover and lots of stories were shared amongst us. The class was taught by four women, each took a turn teaching a module.
One of the things I learned is CERT* teams are developing all over the nation. I have contacted the one in my area already. The purpose of a CERT team is to respond to local disasters. So, for instance, a tornado which cuts across two towns. The local first responders (police and fire) will go out first then the CERT teams come in to fill in any gaps: sheltering, feeding, medical care. Most CERT teams are trying to (or already) develop animal response units. This means if the tornado cuts through a town and leaves a lot of devastation the animal team will come in and rescue, shelter, feed and care for animals until the disaster is over or the animal owner relinquishes ownership. The latter doesn’t happen often because people want their animals back.
The other component of the class was about building relationships with community members. Taking our tornado example, say a barn has been destroyed which houses 20 horses. 5 have perished and the other 15 need a temporary home. The animal unit of the CERT team will help find temporary homes for the 15 horses through agreements with individual barn owners and professionals. Maybe I can take two of the horses and my neighbor down the street can take 3. This will continue until all the horses have a home. However, and this is the key point, all this should be done BEFORE the disaster hits so scrambling to find resources is at a minimum.
It’s really the responsibility of animal owners to have a disaster plan. Wolf and I have one for our cats. If something is to happen to us or our home Harley and Francesca are to go to our friends Michelle and Scott. It’s good to have an out of state contact (but not too far away) for your animals in case they need to get rehomed. this gets your animals out of dangers way. Do you have a plan for your pets? What about your livestock?
And speaking of livestock, is the ratio of livestock you have relative to the transportation you have available? Or, more simply, do you have enough trailer space to move 2 cows, 1 horse, 15 goats, 30 chickens, and a donkey? If not how do you plan to move your livestock in the event of a disaster?
Agreements between farmers is always good. Maybe you can’t transport all your animals but the neighbor who borders you to the north is on higher ground so you can open a fence and let your animals through so long as you and Farmer John have an agreement ahead of time.
Having disaster kits are also a great idea. Disaster kits consist of cages for small animals, enough dry food for three to ten days, litter, pans, and scoops for cats, comfort items, photos of all your animals from each side with special attention to distinctive markings/behaviors, vet papers, emergency contact information for you and your pets, a place to go (preferably out of state or on the other side of the state you live in), immunization records, muzzles for dogs (even the nicest dog can bite in a time of stress), etc.
Keep this phrase in mind: if it isn’t safe for you it isn’t safe for your pets. If you must evacuate take them with you. Otherwise plan to shelter at home for as long as possible.
Because I was at the conference all weekend I had to jimmy my work schedule around so I could get the time off. I ended up working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 7a-10p each day. Believe me when I say I came home *exhausted.* I spent Thursday getting ready for Town Meeting (the fire department got approval to buy a new fire truck! Yea!) and Friday I pretty much slept all day. Saturday I went back to work and yesterday Wolf and I spent some much needed time together. First we went to breakfast then to Home Depot to price some things for projects around the trailer such as a new front door, new screen doors, a small back porch, new laminate for the counters, and new linoleum for the kitchen and bathroom.
Today I went to Mary’s house and she introduced me to her horse Red. I haven’t been around horses since I was ten years old. I’ve been wanting to get involved with horses for some time now but it wasn’t high on my list. Mary and I met at the conference and she invited me to get acquainted with horses through hers. It was very cool to rub Red down and give him carrots. I look forward to doing this again!
So that’s where I’ve been for the last ten days. Do forgive my absence.
*Please note the website isn’t updated and is difficult to use. If you can’t find your local community listed contact you local fire department, animal control officer, police department, or department of public health. Someone should be able to put you in touch with a CERT team representative.