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  Due to the increasing number of natural disasters across the United States, animal owners are being advised to design emergency disaster plans that includes companion animals, horses and livestock.

by Dee Beaugez
Project Impact Coordinator City of Sparks
1999 to 2004

I had the opportunity to work with Michael Steele, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Sparks, Nevada, as part
of emergency planning team for "Project Impact,”
a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded initative.

We began developing a pilot project for animal owners including public information, research, web access to disaster preparedness information, developing relations with the local Humane Society and also hosting an equine disaster preparedness workshop.

Our research uncovered some very startling facts
about animals in disasters.

First and utmost is that if a natural or man-made disaster occurs check to see if your state and the surrdounding states provide special needs facilities for horses, livestock or companion animals (pets).

The National Humane Society reported in their Animal Disaster Report, published in the summer of 1996, that 70% of dog and 62% of cat owners would risk their own lives to save their pets!

Remember the incredible firestorm in Malibu, California in 1993? None of the thousands of firefighters involved were killed, and none of the homeowners were killed during the evacuation, except for one man who went back into the fire area to try and save his cat.

Our research also shows that only five percent (5%) or less of those evacuating with animals would actually TRY to find a special assistance shelter for animals.

Our goal is to provide public information to animal owners to assist them in developing disaster preparedness plans before a disaster strikes.

The world is made up of two types of people – those who are convinced that a disaster can never happen to them and those who prefer not to take the chance.

There is a critical point in history when immediate action is called for to resolve a crisis. There is now a crisis facing horse owners, and that is the lack of structure for protecting horses and other animals before, during and after a disaster.

Yes, there are parts of the puzzle all around us and many people are at last interested in discovering how to put it all together.

As Rick Tobin, Emergency Management Consultant said, “We have now reached what the French called a thermidor -- when the heat of public outcry has reached the boiling point. There are people who want action. There are people willing to take action.”

No one needs to be convinced after floods and fires have challenged Americans.

The number of horses and owners continues to increase, but the size of resources to handle warnings, evacuations, and sheltering is actually decreasing. Yet the resources are availble --if people pulled together.

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"70% of dog and 62% of cat owners would risk their own lives to save their pets!"
National Humane Society




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