Animals Are Flood Victims Too
By Heather Buchman, AccuWeather
Meet Janey, a rambunctious, yet sweet, young pit bull mix who was rescued from the flood waters that engulfed Bloomsburg, Pa., last week. Her family’s home was a total loss.
While her owners were unable to find a temporary housing situation that would allow pets, they had the opportunity to take Janey to a temporary animal shelter set up by Pennsylvania’s Columbia/Montour County Animal Response Team (CART).
Janey was one of more than 30 dogs that were brought to the shelter. Eight cats were also taken in.
A week after the flooding, most of the owners have been able to reunite with their pets. However, for families like Janey’s, who are staying in temporary housing where their pets cannot be accommodated, their animals are now in foster care with volunteers from CART.
The reason Janey had a shelter and now a foster family to take care of her in the midst of disaster stems from lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.
“Across the nation, different states have set up State Animal Response Teams,” explained Erin Ackerman, a member of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. “After Hurricane Katrina… statistics showed people wouldn’t evacuate because they couldn’t take their pets with them.”
The Humane Society has animal rescue and response teams as well.
The hope is that with these response teams now in place, people will be less reluctant to evacuate, knowing there is a safe place to bring their pets.
The Humane Society offers disaster planning tips for pet owners.
Temporary animal shelters will typically take in animals for 72 hours from the beginning of a crisis. If they are able, some stay open longer. CART’s shelter remained open for eight days, and some volunteers have extended their efforts to fostering pets that could not reunite with their owners.
Many of the CART volunteers were also affected by flooding and had to juggle helping out at the shelter and taking care of flood cleanup.
“This devastation was so widespread that even our members have been affected,” Ackerman said. “Almost everyone of us has been affected in some way.”
Janey will remain in foster care until her owners are able to take her home.
Video by AccuWeather.com Producer Grace Muller