Partnerships to Help
|Retailers can partner with the American Red Cross, AVMA or the American Veterinary Medical Foundation in the event of an emergency.|
In March, the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the American Red Cross partnered to help protect animals and pets during an emergency through an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which lays out the groundwork for increased cooperation between the national organizations.
“I’m eager to see how we can collectively address challenges in disaster preparedness and response as we look to prepare families for the unexpected,” Case said. “This new MOU is a call to action for both groups and will allow us to develop new programs on the local level to meet the challenges.”
What does this mean to the pet retailer? If disaster should strike, storeowners could play a key role in assisting the AVMA and the Red Cross by providing much-needed supplies, boarding animals or reporting on the scene, Case said.
“In a [Hurricane] Ike or Gustav scenario, the AVMA would be very interested in talking with retailers and finding out what the needs are in the field,” she said. “When Ike hit, some of the companion-animal shelters were lacking food bowls and leashes for the animals. It would be wonderful to be able to partner with and reach out to pet retailers in the face of disaster.”
Vetere said that in the past, the APPA has connected shelters in need with products from retailers and manufacturers, and he added that a partnership with the AVMA and Red Cross would be a good idea.
“It makes a lot of sense,” he said. “In the past, whenever something has come up, we’ll reach out to specific members for needed items, just so they get what they want and not 400 tons of cat litter when they don’t need it.”
Retailers or retailer organizations interested in working with the AVMA and Red Cross can contact the AVMA at 847-925-8070.
“AVMA would be very interested in talking about how we can better coordinate resources to maintain health and wellness of the animals following emergency and disaster,” Case said.
Setting Up a Makeshift Rescue Center
|Retailers should always have plenty of water available.|
When Caterina Finley, owner of E’town Pet Center in Elizabethtown, Ky., turned her shop into a shelter during a natural disaster, she learned a few things along the way. Here is some of her gained wisdom:
- Keep out of the danger zone: Retailers should be sure they’re not in an affected area. Finley’s power stayed on, so the animals in her care were out of harm’s way.
- Have a generator and fuel on hand: In case the power does go out, retailers should have a backup power source to keep fish tanks bubbling, heat lamps warming and the cash register operating.
- Give them space: Retailers should have an idea of how much physical room they have in their stores to board pets.
- Let customers know you’re available: Retailers can let customers know about boarding during disasters through flyers, word of mouth or phone trees. They can also partner with their local government or Red Cross.
- CYA: Retailers should make sure the pet owners sign some sort of disclaimer or responsibility waiver in case an animal does become injured or lost.
- Gather needed supplies, information: In addition to the waiver, retailers should be sure to get the pets’ medical information, such as vaccinations and medications, and the owners’ contact information, including where they will be staying in case phone lines go down.
Preparing Pets Before Disaster Strikes
In disaster-prone areas, retailers can raise awareness of pet preparedness well in advance, said Niki Singlaub, director of product development for Ruff Wear Inc. in Bend, Ore. A simple and to-the-point endcap display can educate customers—and keep their pets safe in case of emergency.
“The display would depend on where they’re located,” he said. “If they’re down in the Gulf, for instance, it would make sense to do a hurricane disaster preparedness section in May. Keep the display focused and people will appreciate it.”
Some general items to merchandise include:
- Dog boots
- First-aid kits
- I.D. tags
- Travel beds
- Travel bowls
- Safety vests
- Extra pick-up bags or litter
- Battery-operated pumps and heating pads
In addition, retailers may wish to create handouts that list other items to have on-hand in natural disaster situations, such as vaccination verifications, medications, veterinary contact information, a two-week supply of food and water, and photos of the animals.
They should also encourage their customers to have their pets microchipped for easy identification, should they become separated.
“Sometimes the pets are going to be the last thing customers think of,” Singlaub said. “When they see the products all together in the store, maybe it’ll make sense. They can then put the emergency items together in an extra duffel bag alongside their own disaster kit so it’s just ready to go.”
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation encourages pet professionals to verify that their insurance policy covers these specific damages:
- Business interruption (continuing expenses)
- Extra expense (overtime pay and relocation expenses)
- Professional extension (if boarding, it covers injury/loss/death of animals in your care)
- Loss of income
- Personal property (replacement value)
- Automatic inflation
- Fire damage
- Water damage
- Debris removal/cleanup
- Comprehensive building and structure replacement
- Coverage of rented and leased equipment
- Interruption of power, heating/air and sewer
- Coverage of workers’ compensation
- General and professional liability
PETS Act of 2006
Hurricane Katrina taught many lessons, one of which was how to manage pets in case of natural disaster. Because no pet-evacuation procedure was in place, in 2006, Congress passed H.R. 2858, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, and on Oct. 6, President Bush signed the PETS Act into law.
“The PETS Act requires that state and local agencies must include pets in their evacuation plans to receive FEMA funding,” said Janell Matthies, United Animal Nations (UAN) emergency services manager in Sacramento, Calif. “As a result of this, more and more local agencies are formulating plans to include animals in evacuation operations. For example, some areas have formed ‘animal response teams’ that can set up temporary shelters for animals that are displaced and/or coordinate rescue efforts for animals trapped behind disaster lines.”
Despite the policies, Matthies recommends pet retailers and owners have their own evacuation plans in place in case of natural disaster.
“UAN encourages everyone to have their own emergency and evacuation plans and to rely on government rescue and shelter operations only as a last resort,” she said. <HOME>
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