Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 26 days ago

    Thanks to everyone who participated and shared resources on last month's Humane Education Resource Drive post and library folder (with 28 resources and counting)!  This month's resource drive is focused on Disaster Preparedness & Response, another timely topic requested by forum members @Eliza Torres and @Julielani Chang on this post in April

    What is Disaster Preparedness & Response?

    From Human Animal Support Services (HASS):  The word "disaster" can mean many things, from an incident that affects a small population to a national event. Each individual animal shelter has different emergencies they may contend with due to region, susceptibility to certain natural disasters, facility design, and other factors. A disaster preparedness and response plan involves understanding the various types of risks and hazards (natural or man-made disasters) that may harm or negatively impact you, your staff, your animals, your operation and your organization, and your community. Preparing for such events requires the development of actions and procedures that help to minimize their negative impact, and enable you to effectively respond.


    How to Participate in this Resource Drive

    1. Upload or Share Disaster Preparedness & Response examples & resources on this thread

    2. Reply with a request for a specific Disaster Preparedness & Response resource you NEED or a question related to Disaster Preparedness & Response


    What Should You Share?

    • Tell us about Disaster Preparedness & Response programs at your organization (or another)  

    • Share examples of disaster plans (hurricane, fire, flood, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.), templates, resource lists, training documents, emergency contact lists, and anything else your organization (or another) uses to prepare your people, animals, facility, and community for disasters.


    Where Will the Disaster Preparedness & Response Resources be Stored? How do I view them? 

    All Disaster Preparedness & Response-related resources shared on this thread will be accessible in the "Disaster Preparedness & Response" folder in the Maddie's Pet Forum Library:


    Share & You'll Be Entered To Win $50

    Everyone who uploads a file, shares a resource on this thread or replies with information or questions about Disaster Preparedness & Response during the month of September 2023 will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Amazon, Petco or PetSmart (winner's choice). Start sharing now!


    Pro-Tips for sharing resources: 

    • Use the "Upload File" button when replying to this thread to attach a file. We encourage you to attach the file versus hyperlinking to the file whenever possible. Files that are attached get automatically added to the Maddie's Pet Forum Resource Library so attaching helps make the resource searchable and improves accessibility within the forum.

    • Yes, you can share resources that your organization did not create. Sharing is caring and this applies to resources too! Make sure the creator allows the resource to be shared publicly and be sure to give credit to the creator or source organization.


    Charlotte Otero
    Community Strategist at Maddie's Fund

  • 2.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 26 days ago

    Red Rover offers a Responders workshop in various places around the country. You can sign up for their "interest list" to attend or host. The workshop covers disaster response for both natural disasters and man-made crises as well as their domestic violence initiatives. For those in the Atlanta area, Good Mews is hosting a workshop on Sept 16th (10a - 2p). You can register through the Red Rover site or through Good Mews.

    Workshops and Events - RedRover

    Events Calendar - Good Mews Animal Foundation

    Shari Cahill

  • 3.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 20 days ago

    We added 7 disaster preparedness resources to the library to kick off this month's resource drive. There are a total of 10 resources in the folder so far. Please take a look at them to see if there is anything that could help your organization and add your own to this thread as well!

    Here's a link to the folder (with 10 resources as of 9/7/23):

    Disaster Preparedness & Response Folder 

    Kim Domerofski (she/her)
    Community Manager
    Maddie's Fund

  • 4.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 18 days ago

    One key lesson from Louisiana learned after Katrina, and reinforced every hurricane since:

    Get your sheltered dogs and cats who are past stray-hold out ahead of the storm -- transport them wherever they can go, because they're adoptable RIGHT NOW.  Every kennel needs to be emptied BEFORE the storm.

    After the storm, all your space will be needed for displaced disaster victim dogs and cats, who CANNOT be transported out of the area because they have people who will be looking for them, once the people surface.  DO NOT TRANSPORT THESE ANIMALS FAR AWAY -- they'll never get found by owners if they leave the area, and you'll be adding more grief to people who are already devastated by the loss of a home.  It's terribly cruel, and it's happened a bunch of times.

    Microchip everything that comes in if it's not already (get chip donations ahead of the storm -- Datamars is pretty fabulous about helping, others not so much).  Put your chips and descriptions and thumbnail photos into a Google Doc that is searchable, along with the animal location.   If there are multiple receiving locations, add them all into ONE shared document -- don't have 8 different ones running that people have to search.  It's common for animals to be shuffled around from shelters to fairgrounds etc, and these spreadsheets are pretty essential to track them by microchip.  Make them public so that people can start looking for lost pets immediately, while they're in shelters -- they'll at least know their beloved pet is still alive.

    Also, before the storm, stock up on 4% chlorhexidene veterinary shampoo and gloves -- get a bunch of gallons of it and pump dispensers.   Every animal pulled out of flood water will need to be scrubbed with it -- and people who waded in it will likely end up using it too at a hosepipe outside.   We saw years of terrible skin issues in dogs that came out of the 2016 Louisiana floods -- they were dropped in shelters and not bathed.  That floodwater is a witches' brew of petrochemicals from vehicles, raw sewage, ag chemicals and loads of nasty bacteria, and you want that stuff off the skin as fast as possible. 

    Be aware that once the 'big guys' show up in a few days (FEMA, Red Cross), they're famous for being jerks to all the first-responders and local rescuers-- including the local vets, vet techs, and front-line rescuers who've been dealing with the crisis in the immediate aftermath.  They seem to have some protocol of kicking them all out of the mass shelter, with nobody to replace them, while they get organized, and then letting them back in eventually, but operating with layers of bureaucracy about what what they have to do.  Then they throw out all the donated meds, food, crates etc. people brought in early because of some stupid made-up rule about "coming in through proper channels" (like a licensed vet in the state isn't one...) -- so take all that stuff with you when they throw you out and store it at a large, safe municipal shelter nearby where the shelter vets can get it around to other municipal and private shelters that are doing emergency intake (including pop up overflow sheltering that FEMA/RC isn't in charge of (e.g., for injured animals)) -- the local folks can get it where it can do some good, because it WILL end up in a dumpster at a FEMA-run mass shelter (brand new crates, urgently needed vet meds and first aid supplies -- you'll find it all in a dumpster the next day, courtesy of FEMA staff).  All of that stuff is pure gold a municipal shelters during this time though, so make sure all that good stuff ends up with folks who will use it and distribute it.   The lesson for those not in disaster areas is donate to local shelters and rescues, NOT national orgs -- locals can be a lot more efficient getting stuff where it's needed immediately.

    Maggie Thomas
    Red Stick German Shepherd Rescue

  • 5.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 18 days ago

    Aloha Maggie,

    Thanks so much for your post.  These are interesting comments. If you went through Katrina, I am so sorry that you had to endure all of that.  It was a terrible time for everyone there.

    I really like your idea of clearing the shelters ahead of an incoming hurricane so you have room for more after the storm.  That's great thinking if it is possible.  It won't be as easy here in Hawaii even though we do transport cats for adoption on the continent.

    As you are aware, we just had a major disaster here on Maui with the devastating Lahaina fire.  I wanted to address the statements you made about FEMA and the Red Cross.  Please do not put the Red Cross in the same category as FEMA. 

    FEMA is a government agency with paid employees that follow the rules created by those in that government agency. All government employees are required to follow the rules whether they agree or not but changes have to happen from within.  If you see things that are wrong, write to the Director and make suggestions for improvements.

    The Red Cross, however, is NOT a government agency.  They are made up entirely of volunteers that do NOT get paid.  After the devastating fires, our hearts were broken and we wanted to help.  We live on O'ahu (a separate island miles away from Maui) so my husband decided he wanted to find out more about the Red Cross.  They were having an informational meeting so he went there and signed up.  He was trained by a man from South Carolina who has been volunteering since Katrina!  He has been at 11 disaster sites and is one of the first to go - as a volunteer!  

    My 72 year old husband, Tom, was told that he wouldn't be needed on Maui because they had over 3000 people who live on Maui and signed up.  But then Hurricane Idalia headed toward Florida so the people from the mainland were sent there to be ready for the victims of that hurricane and the locals were asked to work in Maui.  So Tom was "deployed" to Maui for 3 weeks and the others went to Florida, except for a few old timers who know the ropes of setting up a shelter and getting the people started getting services and who could train Tom and others.  

    Unlike the FEMA employees who are housed at a hotel, Red Cross volunteers are sleeping on air mattresses in a school gym.  He is not sleeping well and after 8 days, looks completely exhausted.  But he is working directly with survivors and making a huge difference.  Yesterday, he helped a survivor who  had absolutely nothing.  He gave him new clothes and found some shoes that would fit him.  When the man said that he needed socks, my husband literally took off his OWN socks and gave them to the man.  

    The Red Cross is doing a fantastic job.  The stories I am hearing would fill your heart.

    As for the animals there, sadly most were burned in the fire.  In the beginning, while searching the burn zone, the National Guard did see some dogs so they put food out for them and soon saw some cats eating the food. So even though the animal groups weren't allowed back in the burn zone right away, people were trying to help the animals that survived.  Eventually, when it was safe,  people were allowed to come get them and give them medical care.

    One thing I had learned about disasters is that people are so quick to criticize and want to blame others for everything.  It must be human nature.  People are traumatized, complaining, angry and try to blame everyone in an attempt to make sense of what is happening. It is all heartbreaking on so many levels.

    But the worst is the evil scammers and trolls who are trying to take advantage of those who lost everything and are in so much pain. It amazes me that some people are so evil and prey on others at a time like this. The things I am reading on FB and IG and hearing on the news would make your hair curl!  They are using this tragedy to try to push their political agenda and add to the distrust and divide.  People who are trying to help are getting death threats!  At a time when we should all be working together and happy that people are helping, evil ones are trying to stir up trouble and hate.  Even Oprah and the Rock were criticized for setting up a fund to go directly to the survivors!!!!  It's ridiculous and so unnecessary! 

    Odd thing - three days before the fire, our local Humane Society held a Disaster Relief training and my husband attended it.  We came up with some great ways that we can help once our sanctuary is open. Now he is getting real life firsthand experience. 

    Again, thank you for your suggestion about clearing the shelters to make room for animals that are lost after a disaster.  Plus it is so important that all pets get microchipped. It is a law here but still people fail to do it.

    Hope you have a great weekend.

    Best Wishes,

    Holly Holowach

    Founder and President

    Popoki Place O'ahu Cat Sanctuary

    Holly Holowach
    Popoki Place O'ahu Cat Sanctuary

  • 6.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 10 days ago

    I can't LOVE this advice enough! I've been involved in animal rescue for decades- but also, in my "real" job, headed HHS for response for my state and several municipalities. FEMA and the feds... Advice to take ALL your stuff (including volunteers!) and move it far away from them and and keep it to yourself until it can be appropriately used is excellent.  Also, ask people at a distance who want to donate to go to your Wish List on Amazon and Walmart and have the items sent to you directly. Or, ask for gift cards to those mega delivery sites or your local grocers or places that still have stock. Sending entire truck loads of random stuff costs just as much money, takes time, may not be what you need, and you may not have somewhere to store it. Gift cards to veterinary supply places like can provide you quick access to items like IVs, gauze, sutures, and vaccines. 

    Reach out to the big pet supply places like PetSmart's and PetCo's national PR and ask them to  be ready to deliver food directly to your shelter. If you know there are pet food manufacturers nearby (they are mostly in the Midwest) ask them for direct, trucked donations as well.

    Finally, take care of your volunteers. Grab PPE from the Feds (if they show up with any 🤦‍♀️) and ask for donations of gas cards!

    Good luck to all of you.  Maggie's post is critically informative!

    Lou Meyers
    Trainer/Foster Home
    Dog Training & Behaviour

  • 7.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 10 days ago

    Cheers, Lou!  Were you there for Harvey when the feds showed up and told all the volunteer vets, vet techs, and rescue folks at the mass-shelter for animals that they were not allowed to use FEMA's portapotties and had to pee in the bushes?   One of my best friends was a vet who drove in to help the day after the storm, with the Cajun Navy -- after FEMA showed up, they made volunteers pee in the bushes for several days while FEMA staff used an array of about 100 portapotties.  The volunteer stories that came out of that mess were pretty "extra."

    Re pet food for disasters -- everyone should know where their nearest Greater Good pet food program drop point (a/k/a Distribution Ambassador) is -- and set one up in your state if there isn't one: 


    Greatergood remove preview
    GOODS, a program of Greater Good Charities, distributes food, essential supplies, clothing, housewares, toys, and more to pets and people in need across the world.
    View this on Greatergood >

    That Greater Good ambassador distribution site is where the semi-trucks and warehousing for national food donations will be located for your area -- as long as it's not in the disaster zone (e.g., flooded or on fire), that warehouse can store the donations and truck them out to the mass-sheltering sites or small local sheltering sites.  They have the capacity to deal with the semi-truck unloading, and systems to push the food out to the regional responders (mass shelters, small local shelters, rescues doing food deliveries to evacuees who are sheltering at campgrounds etc. bc they don't want to be separated from pets by staying at a gym on a cot).  

    One other tip for small, foster-based rescues:  come up with a check-in protocol for your foster homes and remind them of it before the storm or fire.  In 2016, we had foster homes that flooded and they were incommunicado for a while.  Don't rely on a text protocol -- the one receiving the text might be down, and phones get dropped in floodwater or running from a fire.  People may have to deal with all this from shared computers at a shelter site, or borrowing someone else's phone.   Having a volunteer-only FB page or other shared resource that they can access from anywhere, or use an email alias that forwards to all of your officers is key -- that way anybody who's still standing can handle the check in and keep track of people.  In floods, we've sometimes ended up with some flooded volunteers being housed (humans and animals) temporarily by other volunteers, so being able to connect people is pretty important.

    For those NOT in disaster areas who want to help, there is a lot of power in a simple email or FB message asking what the org needs, and even just letting them know that the world is aware and cares what's happening.   When we were still dealing with flooded foster homes and volunteers and dogs being rescued by the Cajun Navy in 2016, the national media was mostly ignoring the story of 100,000 homes flooded in Baton Rouge.  But one little rescue in Alaska saw a small FB story about it, and sent me an email asking, "Would you like us to fundraise to try to fly a few of your dogs up here to our breed rescue? What else can we do?"    I honestly cried when I read that email -- I was so profoundly grateful just to get that little message and have someone asking to help us, instead of asking us for help.  It was the first time anybody had asked if we were okay, and what we needed.   I now make a point to do that for other small GS rescues -- even if I don't know them personally, I try to check in and let them know we've been through it, we're thinking of them, and we're willing to help.  We've fundraised on our FB page for a breed rescue in Iowa hit by a big Derecho because we know recovery is hard--even if it's not "big money," it means a lot to know that your hard-hit, little organization is on the radar of other people.

    One thing NOT to do is ask rescues in the middle of a disaster to take on animals before they out of the immediate effects of the disaster.  I had some clueless self-helpers request that we take dogs from Jefferson Parish while we were still trying to figure out if our fosters were safe -- Jefferson Parish was the staging area all our evacuee dogs were being sent toward, so this clueless person was trying to reverse the flow without realizing it.    It kicks people when they're down when the wannabe folks who are far away get involved like that -- they really need to stand down and get instructions from people on the ground about how they can help through social media, instead of trying to "help" without understanding what's happening on the ground.

    Maggie Thomas
    Red Stick German Shepherd Rescue

  • 8.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 11 days ago

    Disaster preparedness is such an important and vital topic for communities, one that many citizens don't realize there are resources for for themselves and their pets. My degree is actually in emergency management with a focus on animals in disasters so I often post on social media in my community about this topic. I have a few resources that I share when doing so (I did not develop these) so hopefully these will help others here.

    Here are a couple to start with and I will do some digging through my files for others

    Patricia Mount

  • 9.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 9 days ago
      |   view attached

    Good Day, everyone and thanks for sharing these resources. I wanted to include our hurricane preparations checklist as an attachment to show the things we do to our physical location when we have advanced notice of a storm. Our facility Shelters in place when the storm is Cat 3 or below and implements an evacuation plan for Cat 4 and above, if we are projected to be within the appropriate wind fields.  We have other documents that govern ICS responsibilities, 24 hour duty day requirements, compensation etc., but this preparation document is probably the thing that would be most useful?

    Ryan Simonson
    Cat Depot

  • 10.  RE: September 2023 Resource Drive: Disaster Preparedness & Response

    Posted 9 days ago