San Francisco Taking Steps to Care for Pets During EarthquakesPublished April 16, 2012
Located along California’s San Andreas Fault, the city of San Francisco is likely to take precautions in the event of the next big earthquake.
According to a New York Times report, emergency planners in San Francisco are not only thinking of human evacuation plans in the event of an earthquake, but also of how to care for pets during a natural disaster. Ideally, the planners will be able to train pet-disaster responders who work to evacuate dogs, cats and other household pets from the disaster site to one of the 125 temporary animal shelters that will be set up or, if the pet is injured, it will be brought to an emergency animal medical unit where there will be people on hand to tend to the pet’s injury. The city’s “no-pets-left-behind” policy, which says that when people are rescued from burning or collapsed buildings respondents will also try to rescue their pets, stems from the great number of pet fatalities during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
As emergency responders arrived to rescue people stranded in their homes during Katrina, many hurricane victims were told that they could not take their pets along with them when evacuating to the Louisiana Superdome; thus, many pet owners were forced to make the heart-breaking decision to save themselves while leaving their pets behind to perhaps meet their untimely deaths.
Since then, the U.S. has passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, allocating federal funds for animal disaster planning projects. Yet, not all counties are as progressive as San Francisco has been in the effort to protect pets in the event of a natural disaster. Pets are after all, a large part of San Francisco’s population—outnumbering the number of school age children in the city, according to the Times.
Over the last three years, San Francisco has received $350,000 in federal funds designated to animal disaster preparedness efforts in order to protect animals in the case of a disaster such as an earthquake.
The city is still working on obtaining $300,000 to pay for an emergency animal unit—most likely in the form of a small motor home—equipped with medical professionals and equipment needed to care for animals in case of an emergency.
Until then, animal lovers in San Francisco will continue to work to ensure that pets are never an afterthought when it comes to rescues during earthquakes or other life threatening situations.
Do you think your town is doing enough to ensure animals are rescued during natural disasters? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
Check out other tips on how to care for pets in the case of an emergency: