For many, animals are a source of companionship and affection, and provide essential mental support. As such, the safety and well-being of household pets are important components of disaster planning, and animal rescue efforts should be incorporated as appropriate into preparedness strategies for individuals and readiness plans for organizations and communities. Lack of advance planning in this regard puts animals, their owners and at times first responders in danger.
Lisa Bishop, and her dog, Cody, from Northwest Disaster Search Dogs, working at the site of a landslide in Oso, Washington. (Photo by Spc. Matthew Sissel, 122nd PAOC, Washington National Guard).
It is well-documented that one of the major reasons why people do not evacuate their homes, even when faced with life-threatening, imminent danger, is because they cannot evacuate with their pets;
Emergency preparedness plans must incorporate evacuation, transportation and sheltering options for household pets, outdoor pets, and farm animals in order to ensure the health and safety of both pet owners and animals;
Pet owners are less likely to evacuate their homes in the face of imminent danger because they refuse to leave their pets behind putting themselves, their pets and first-responders in danger;
Cooperation between local nonprofits, social service agencies, and emergency management departments can mitigate loss of life and support effective advocacy, education, and training for pet owners.
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