After the Webinar: Animals in Natural Disaster Response. Q&A with Diane Robinson

Webinar presenter Diane Robinson answered a number of your questions after her presentation, ICS and Legal Considerations for Animals in Natural Disaster Response. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: If an agency has done nothing if it were ground zero, where do they even begin to start? Can you give them those first couple two or three steps?

Diane Robinson: For an agency – preparing yourself – so going through and doing some mitigation of your facility that if you’re in an impacted area that you start to look at your facility and what you need to do to be able to manage that situation and recover afterward. The FEMA training, absolutely everybody needs to be trained in that. There are also additional webinars and resources out there if you’re doing your disaster planning to prepare your folks in understanding what their role is going to be and really how do you manage your day to day responsibility if the disaster hit as well as then get with your emergency management. You need to know what your role was going to be and if you are going to be part of that disaster plan then start building how you are going to respond to that.



Audience Question: Piggybacking on that, Diane, you said earlier in the presentation you said there are a few courses that are basics for people who need to learn how to address the animal needs in a disaster. Can you repeat those numbers?

Diane Robinson: These are listed on the resource typing for the position but general recommendations are 100, 200, 700, 800.  There’s a 10 and 111 I believe are the animal ones. So if you go to the resource typing it will tell you what all those numbers are and if you go to the FEMA website that I listed there that has those FEMA courses that you need to take



Audience Question: I’m part of a community animal response team or CART with a primary mission of a disaster sheltering, not rescue. We desperately need a complete training package to train new members. How do we get a copy of one of the trainings mentioned at the start of the program or do you know of any source for one? 

Diane Robinson:  I know that American Humane has a disaster sheltering course and I believe they still take those out to communities. I don’t know how that works but certainly checking the American Humane – Josh Carey (?), they have a training that they deliver. Additionally, if you go to some of the I think RedRover is another group that has some disaster preparedness. I don’t know if they have a sheltering. And I could check ASPCA, and certainly, they could contact me. We bring trainings out as well and can assist with training.



Audience Question: While we’re talking about sheltering. Are we also talking about vaccinating the animals as they come into the shelter with any basics, like similar to what we would traditionally do on an intake situation? Are you also vaccinating on disaster situations?

Diane Robinson:  So that’s part of the considerations that you need to have with your communities. And I know that those – that philosophy varies depending on who you talk to and best practices will certainly cover more. But ideally, we don’t know what the history of these animals are so if you develop this as part of your plan that you going to be vaccinating these animals, then having the permissions of the owners to do that. You’re going to need to look into legality of that as far as bringing them into the shelter and then have that part of your paperwork and intake process. Establish what works for you but you also then – the resources to be able to do that. Both in giving the vaccine and then having those vaccines available are a consideration.



Audience Question: Could you touch on the PETS Act again? 

Diane Robinson:  So the PETS Act came about following the summer of 2005. It was inactive in the fall of 2006 and that – what it requires is that you have a disaster plan. It also tied funding to that, that having a disaster plan and working with that enable, if it is a federally declared, that there are resources available and some reimbursement available as part of that. And again that’s follow up with your emergency managers.



Audience Question: Doesn’t the PETS Act only apply for in jurisdictions applied for an accept federal funding, if the jurisdiction doesn’t accept federal dollars then they don’t have to have a disaster plan, is that right? 

Diane Robinson:  No, you have to have a disaster plan and it varies – Georgia recently as part of their through their Department of Agriculture requires all of the facilities that they oversee and licensed that they have a disaster plan. So you have to have a disaster plan for the animals but you’re able to get funding for it. I can’t speak what ramifications there are if you don’t have a disaster plan but it’s certainly in your best interest to have a plan for the animals going into it. Social media and media will destroy you if you don’t have something planned for it and obviously not to mention impact on the people and the animals but it’s worth your while to have a plan.



Audience Question: How can the organizations with resources, register what they have and what they do. So, for example, they have an air-conditioned trailer outfitted for transport, how do they register those resources? 

Diane Robinson: First up locally is again, emergency managers are going to send me hate mail, but get with your emergency management, get with your ESF that is responsible for the animal issues and the jurisdictional authorities and let them know what your capabilities are. Develop those disaster plans, as far as from the FEMA side of it, they have to double-check through NASAAEP  or certainly (indiscernible 1:08:28). If there’s some other avenue, check with NARSC too as far as registering what resources you have available but the biggest impact is going to be locally and so starting there with your local jurisdiction.



Audience Question: You use a couple of acronyms if we can go back and clarify those. What is an MAA and what’s the difference between an MOU and an MAA. 

Diane Robinson:  So an MAA is Mutual Aid Agreement and an MOU is Memorandum of Understanding. The Mutual Aid Agreement certainly is just I can do this for you, and you can do this for me. So we sell that out with each other on what we’re able to provide one another. With an MOU, the other agreement is simply that I may be calling you in to support me and where again, it’s that foundation building of relationship that we have all worked out some of the legality of being able to assist one another or it can spell out what you’re able to provide but it certainly doesn’t get with your legal department you don’t want it to be so strict that says we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that. There needs to be “This is what we can provide to you if the need is there”.



Audience Question:  Has there been any court decisions or lawsuits to your knowledge establishing a limit on only service animals being in the human shelter and not of the others, meaning like the therapy or emotional support animals? Are you aware any of the work being done in this area by DOJ, ADA staff, or anything on this line?

Diane Robinson:  I am not. I know it has certainly been a topic of conversation not even just related to disaster but my understanding is that legitimate service animals that are certified and credentialed those are the ones that have always been required to be sheltered. It’s the PETS Act that expanded it to the pet, the public per that aren’t service animals but that’s a really challenging area right now because you can just file that in a certificate and label your animal regardless of what it is as service animal so unfortunately, I don’t have any more information for you on that.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of ICS and Legal Considerations for Animals in Natural Disaster Response. 



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