Webinar presenter Beth Gammie from Red Rover answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Animals in Disasters: How to Help Your Community. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Comment: Heather from Shelter Love is actually on today’s webinar. And she just shared that her organization offers free software to track disaster responses animal intakes for disaster responses. So, I’ve provided that link on today’s webinar recording page, folks. So, I don’t miss that opportunity if you do happen to need that kind of software, so it is free of course.
Beth Gammie: That is fantastic. And really needed and if you don’t mind, just shoot me an e-mail if possible, because I’d like to talk with you. A lot of times when we go to the shelter, our partners are the ones that have or managing the shelter and have the record-keeping system set up and going electronic is just so, so much easier.
Audience Question: What is the status at pet friendly sheltering these days? Are most shelters pet-friendly, and these disaster situations?
Beth Gammie: It’s a great question. It really varies. You know, pet jurisdictions have to take into account and plan for pet-friendly shelters and transportation of people with pets in order to get the reimbursement for their disaster dollars through FEMA. So, it is a requirement and it really just varies. Although overall the movement is happening more and more. And one of the things that Red Rover does during disasters, during the bigger ones I should say, is we do a resource list that we post on our website and social media resources for evacuees. And it’s mainly pet-friendly sheltering and also a list of and the hotels and those kinds of things. And in part, one of the things I do is I actually call around and reach out to emergency managers and find out what’s available. And it’s hit or miss. It’s getting better, but you know. For you, animal lovers, go to your emergency manager and ask them what their plan is and where the pet-friendly shelters are because a lot of times that’s what it takes for if you don’t have that available in your community. They’ll get on it when they know constituents are pushing for it.
Audience Question: How can folks interested in volunteering on-site for Red Rover? How can they participate and volunteer with you guys?
Beth Gammie: Perfect question. We actually just started an online training program, an online training course for Red Rover to volunteer with us. So, you just go to red rover dot org. And go to the responders’ page, and if you have any issues finding them or anything, just contact me and you will be, you know, just need to be 18 years old. And take our course and also take the FEMA, the ICS 100 course. But it’s all on there, and we encourage you to do that. And also, other agencies like HSUS. They have a good volunteer program. We encourage our volunteers to volunteer with other agencies. So that’s a good way to get started with us.
Audience Question: So, you talked about a lot of different things that we should keep in the back of our brains when setting up these disaster centers or sheltering centers. What about security concerns? Are there anything? Is there anything we should really be thinking about, especially around security?
Beth Gammie: That’s a good question. And in we, you know, we, the shelters really don’t operate 24/7, and so there are times when they’re closed. And quite often, the county or city will have, provide security, have police officers or animal control agents, we’ve had National Guard, folks monitoring. They’re not like necessarily a high-risk place, but you just disasters, female people get so traumatized, it’s so unpredictable that it is a good idea to have if you have a security officer. Just sitting in their car watching in. I haven’t really been at a shelter, where anything that’s happened, even in the ones that haven’t been guarded, but it’s a good idea to get them to bring up.
Audience Question: He talked about many people and volunteers, their experience with dogs and cats. What do we do about providing proper care for some of our more exotic friends? Our pocket pets and birds and things like that. How do you support them and their needs?
Beth Gammie: So, that’s a really good question and when, you know, when we do sheltering and we’re working with other agencies and it really, a lot of times it ends up someone there really knows a lot about birds or knows a lot about reptiles. But what we do also ahead of time is, we contact veterinary officers. A lot of times, there’s, you know, you can just Google iguanas in the area, and you’ll find that there’s a club or something and so, we actually have reached out to like specialty associations and groups and have like, sheltered birds at veterinarian offices, and things like that. So, but it is surprising how others a lot of times expertise there. But in disasters, you do get all different types of animals. In superstorm Sandy, we sheltered a goldfish.
Audience Question: In these sheltering situations. I’m sure that something or you may have to consider vaccinations or emergency care. Do you have owners, provide paperwork, sign waivers about exposures, possible diseases like kennel cough? How do you deal with that vaccination situation? So many different animals coming in with varying different levels of previous care record that kind of stuff. What do you do?
Beth Gammie: Well, we, the intake paperwork does contain a really about that despite our best care, something could happen to your animal. And there’s also a part on there about providing medical care and it usually is a checkbox. You know, find me first, just provided that kind of thing. you know, we have a separate form for vaccinations if those aren’t going to be provided. A lot of times, the jurisdiction hasn’t been able to line up getting veterinarians there and vaccinations and so on. But so, if we do provide those services, you just, you get the owners okay, you know, just sign off on the form. And yeah, it’s really much better if they have it and really about the only thing that you can you know, that I’ve sometimes I’ve seen jurisdictions, just like give rabies shots, but it’s been really great if you can do that, and then you will get the kennel cough, vaccination to dogs and so on. But if you do get a good vet area set up, it really often can turn into a vet clinic for the owners and their pets. And you end up getting like a pretty good vaccination rate in your community.
Audience Question: I am currently working on the Mountain View Fire Recovery effort right now in Mando County, California. She’ll tell owners who are missing their cats to keep putting food out, any suggestions so far? An outdoor cat shelter since a lot of these folks. I mean, they’ve lost their homes. So, any ideas?
Beth Gammie: Well, there are, I know what I would say, I know we’re just about out on time, I would just, you know, Google, cat house, cat shelter. There’s really a lot of great ones that you can make out of plastic bins. Just cut up. You know, like you know, those kinds of hard plastic bins. You know, the size, you cut a hole in it. I’m going to go on there and a lot of times are used in cold weather areas as well but kind of any kind of plastic like that. And keep the lid on it and an entrance works pretty good.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Animals in Disasters: How to Help Your Community.