The first wave of deadly tornados ripped through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and parts of Iowa on Sunday. When disaster strikes, it’s not just people that are uprooted. Often pets are left behind or separated from their families due to the storm or lack of pet-friendly shelter afterwards. A national non-profit – RedRover – has developed a response network called RedRover Responders to come to the rescue when that happens. (Here are resources for this storm from RedRover Responders.)
“We’ve already been looking ahead to be prepared for deadly tornados and other disasters that may hit communities,” says Leili Khalessi, marketing and communications manager at RedRover. “We watch the news as it comes in and then monitor social media to compile resources that are available in the area. We look to see if there is a large scale sheltering need – either for shelters damaged or for pet families displaced to areas that won’t allow their pets.”
The organization also has connections in animal welfare around the country that helps give them perspective in areas where help is need. When the time comes, RedRover Responders, trained volunteers from all over the country, are often part of their first responders program. When the call goes out, they often leave on a moment’s notice to help pets in need.
“RedRover Responders are trained to help care for and comfort animals in need,” adds Khalessi. “They could be helping veterinary staff care for injured animals or work with displaced animals in temporary shelter until it’s safe to reunite them with their families. We’ve talked to families after a disaster and found that after people have lost it all, knowing their pet or pets are safe means everything.”
RedRover Responders work with the Humane Society, ASPCA or other groups that are leading relief efforts. Last year, they helped with the relief efforts in Moore, Okla. after deadly tornados hit the area. Even though tornados hit quickly with little warning, there are steps you can take to help either keep you and your pet together or to be reunited if you’re split up.
- Identify evacuation locations – Find out before disaster strikes which area hotels, motels and shelters are pet-friendly. Also check to see if there are kennels or pet boarding facilities nearby if pet-friendly hotels are not an option. Keep the list with your disaster kit and in your smart phone.
- Microchip your pet – A microchip is the single best way to reconnect with your pet. Make sure the company has your updated cell and home number and alternate contact information. Make sure your pet has an up-to-date ID tag on his or her collar as well.
- Get a buddy – Exchange keys with a neighbor so that both of you could rescue each other’s pets in an emergency. Practice evacuating each other’s pets and make sure you each have photos of each other’s pets.
- Assemble a disaster kit – Assemble a kit for each pet and keep it near your door. The kit should include a week’s worth of food, bowls, water, medication, first aid kit, collar/leash, animal care supplies and some cleaning supplies. You should also include copies of vaccination records and important veterinary records.
- Take photos of you and your pet – You should have good digital photos of you and your pet and independent photos of your pet. Digital copies on your phone (and even stored in the cloud) are ideal. Hard copies are also good. Good photos are needed for lost pet fliers and to help prove that a found pet belongs to you.
Along with the work that RedRover Responders does on the ground, it also offers emergency grants for those needing veterinary assistance. Here are other groups that could help. Learn more about the work of RedRover online and follow their work on Facebook.
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