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Pets, Livestock and other Animals: Planning to Aid All Animals During a Disaster

August 23, 2010

When a fire or flood overwhelms a community, the first instinct is to grab the loved ones and head to safety. Many Californians couldn't even imagine leaving their animals behind, but haven't included the necessary precautions in their own emergency plans. A huge push for a better understanding of animal needs during emergencies took place this August in San Diego and Davis.  

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Cal EMA Secretary Matt Bettenhausen "It's not a matter of if we're going to have an earthquake, fire or flood, but a matter of when," said Cal EMA Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen. "What's important for us is to plan ahead.  And, we need to plan ahead for our pets and animals so they're taken care of when disaster strikes," he said.

The California Emergency Management Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture combined forces with UC Davis' International Animal Welfare Training Institute and Veterinary Hospital under the California Animal Rescue Emergency System (CARES) banner to promote animal health and safety during emergency response efforts. Stakeholders from state, county, city and non-profit agencies involved with animals discussed how to effectively implement a County Animal Response Team in each jurisdiction in California.

"CARES is very important to the citizens of California," said Dr. John Madigan, Director of the International Animal Welfare Training Institute at UC Davis.   "Animals are important and disasters affect the well being of animals, and the public has justifiably asked "Who's looking out for the animals? What plans do we have for them. What about the horses and the cattle?  Those are important issues that we hope CARES will address," said Madigan.


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Tracey Stevens, Deputy Director IAWTI - UC Davis The first workshop took place at UC San Diego's School of Pharmaceutical Sciences on Aug. 17. The second workshop, on Aug. 19, was held next to one of the most advanced animal hospitals in the world at UC Davis' Gladys Hall.

Stakeholders discussed roles of volunteers, considerations for county emergency plans, establishing partnerships in communities, media considerations, shelter assessment and the roles of veterinarians on the scene.

"We've seen it time and time again, people will not evacuate their homes during a disaster unless they can take their animals with them," said Cal EMA Assistant Secretary Kelly Huston.  "It's very encouraging to see the passion and commitment many people have about this issue in California," said Huston.  "We're on the right track."

Officials from UC Davis, Cal EMA and CDFA all said these workshops were some of the most significant efforts in recent years to secure the safety of California's animals, from household pets to livestock.

Visit the International Animal Welfare Training Institute website


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