This Best of the Best Practice provides a template for county-level preparedness planning for service animals, companion animals, livestock and wildlife concerns.

Significance of the Problem

Service animals are the link to independence for some people with disabilities in the United States. Taking adequate precautions to try and keep the animal with the person during and after a disaster can be increased with adequate individual and community planning.

Prior to 2006, disaster planning and preparedness initiatives that included provisions for pets, service animals, and livestock were often at best an afterthought, and at worst overlooked completely. Hurricane Katrina helped to expose this major gap in disaster planning.

In response, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, commonly known as the PETS Act. The PETS Act, an amendment to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, is designed to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness plans address the needs of people with pets and with service animals in disaster and emergency situations. As a result, interest in the disaster management subfield of animal preparedness has increased dramatically, but as an emerging field it has largely grown without a body of best practices to guide it.

Best Practice-County Planning

To help bring forth model templates for others to build from, we selected two county-level plans that have been recently developed.

Douglas County, Kansas has developed an emergency animal sheltering plan with the goal of providing a “clean, safe place for the housing of all animals (household pets and livestock) affected by a disaster.” Douglas County has established an animal response team (DCART) that is primarily responsible for utilizing existing facilities or establishing temporary ones to house animals until they can be reunited with their owners or relocated. The plan utilizes local emergency management, the Douglas County Humane Society, the DCART, animal control, and the livestock commissioner. The plan contains provisions for the activation and closing of emergency animal shelters, operational procedures for animal care, safety and infection control.

Douglas County- Animal Response Team Emergency Animal Shelter Plan

Pet Evacuation Grab and Go Bag Checklist

Another plan from Reno County, Kansas provides similar direction for animal preparedness and response.

Service Animal / Pet Disaster Preparedness Information Form

Best Practice- Preparedness

This website from the Animal Response Team of Reno County, Kansas provides a comprehensive overview of emergency preparedness for companion animal owners. It gives owners easy-to-complete forms to fill out to ensure all necessary information is recorded and all important preparedness steps have been taken. The site lists the supplies needed in a disaster kit for cats, dogs and horses, and has additional information for owners of small animals, reptiles and birds. The website provides pet owners with guidelines to make disasters less stressful for pets, such as acclimating animals to crates before they are needed in disasters and training pets in basic obedience. Critical information is also provided in Spanish.

See Best of Best Practices Seasonal Flu and Pandemic Planning for training in service animal and pet preparedness as well as other resources listed on the right-hand side of this page.

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