September is recognized as National Preparedness Month which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year. The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets.
Different disasters require different responses. But whether the disaster is a hurricane or a hazardous spill, you may have to evacuate your home.
In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost or worse. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.
Nassau County has implemented a co-sheltering program, which allows residents and their pets to be housed in the same facility with the County Animal Response Team (CART). Under the co-sheltering program, owners will be housed in a separate portion of the building at Nassau Community College but provided easy and controlled access to their pets.
Owners will be issued identification bracelets linking them to their pets. Volunteers will operate the shelter, but less oversight will be necessary since owners are allowed to feed, exercise and interact with pets. Most other disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of state health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals who assist people with disabilities are generally the only animals allowed in those disaster shelters.
Town animal shelters and other animal shelters will generally have limited to no available room for owned animals during an emergency and should not be counted on to take your animal. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead.
Visit www.nassaucountyspca.org/plan.cfm for more disaster planning tips from the county’s SPCA.