October 2, 2009

Rescue workers move in to round up animal survivors of disaster

It is good to read that the SPCA, MAF workers and disaster experts from the World Society for the Protection of Animals will travel to Samoa to treat and feed animals left hungry and injured after the tsunami. The livestock need to be saved as they are a source of food and injured pets, particularly dogs, are a source of danger if packs start scavenging or attacking people. .

After Hurricane Katrina, it was found that many people refused to be evacuated ahead of the storm because they could not take their pets. Since then, part of disaster planning involves the establishment of temporary shelters to house animals until they can be reunited with their owners, or where this is not possible, rehomed. They realised that human life can only be saved if they make arrangements to ensure people really do leave.
Sadly, a tsunami or earthquake often gives little time for evacuation, but being prepared to confine pets and get out where possible can occur. The American Veterinary Association has written a book about it - "Saving the Whole Family"

After 9/11, many animals were left in the surrounding towers, their owners evacuated. Local people set up a rescue arrangement in one of the piers , pet food was donated, and the army took volunteers cages up into the high-rises, with no power, lights or lifts, and collected the pets. To their credit, they only lost two animals... one very young, and one very old.

This type of disaster also created a need for Urban Rescue dogs, dogs trained to search in rubble... as opposed to Land Searches in the bush or forests. Urban dogs cannot wear a tracking harness as they need to operate in unsafe conditions and be directed from a distance by their handler. They also cannot dig when they make "a find" - just sit quietly ! Their sensitive noses and eyes become clogged with dust, but vets would not be allowed into these areas to treat the dogs, so the handlers must also be trained in emergency care. Some paramedics are trained to be able to place intravenous drips into the dogs too. I have had the privilege of watching these dogs being trained here in Christchurch - at a local hard fill dump! I take my hat off to the volunteers who hide deep in the rubble waiting for the dogs to arrive!
You can read more here:

My friend came for coffee today and we did wonder what we would grab when an emergency happened... during the recent tsunami warning, they did put the cat cage on the deck and shut the cat inside the house where they could find him... just in case!
Would you be ready?


  1. if only we can predict when an earthquake will occur. typhoon give off signal, but even that can't prepare us from its wrath.
    our PAWS ( Phil. Animal Welfare Society) were also busy adopting animals abandoned by the owners because the temporay shelters canot accomodate them. but we saw many dead pets and even fowl animals after the storm. they are as helpless as the humans who perished.

  2. I would try to be ready! I have chickens and fish but I couldnt leave any animal if there was a storm warning.

    what those people did for the pets in 9/11 is amazing. I respect anyone who does that. :) xx


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