It is the day after the hurricane made landfall and the media is reporting that hurricane victims are complaining that FEMA has failed to knock on their doors with food and water. Two events are at play: the first is that the people had the opportunity to evacuate and failed to do so and second, they choose to shelter-in-place without preparation.
Why would a person weather out a storm and not be prepared? Have we become so foolish to believe that no matter what life mistakes that we make, someone will be there to fix them for us. And if FEMA doesn’t show up to fix our mistakes, we immediately run to the media.
No matter how prepared FEMA is for a storm, if you are going to sit out a storm, you need to be prepared to care for yourself (and your pets) for a week. It is the commonsense portion of your disaster plan… you know, the plan that you should have made before the storm…. before running to the media.
We have become a society of victims. We are too shortsighted to recognize that we become victims of our own foolishness.
Most veterinarians will tell you that the best way to keep your shelter animals health is to keep your animal population low. In today’s world of No Kill, people don’t want you to euthanize any animal, even aggressive animals, if you have open cage space.
Some foolish States created laws preventing the euthanasia of shelter animals if open cage space is available. The people creating those laws did not have the common sense to understand that open cage space is necessary to provide for incoming animals. Without open cage space, every new animal intake would create a crisis: do you force the doubling of animals in cages or quickly euthanize an animal to make space on every intake?
Maintaining an animal shelter at full capacity creates stress on the animals. Animals under stress are more likely to get sick. A shelter full of sick animals is a shelter’s worst nightmare.
Even shelter maintaining the proper population balance will hit a crisis when animals are dumped on them from natural disasters or hoarding cases. Usually longer holding periods will be required during natural disasters in hope of the pet’s owner returning home. Hoarding cases often require holding periods to get the owner through the court process; these holding periods could easily exceed months.
The business of animal sheltering frequently forces shelter management to move from one crisis to another. When tough decisions are made to manage the overpopulation at an animal shelter, the No Kill folks will be first to criticize the those decision when they see an empty cage.
One of the nice things about Hurricanes is that you see them coming. But, in spite of the advanced notice of its arrival, we see emergency personnel rescuing pets that were abandoned by their owners who had evaluated. This is clear evidence that the pet’s owners had no emergency plan.
Emergency plans are pretty simple, you plan early and you plan for your pets. With all of the websites available to assist pet owners in making a plan, there is no excuse. Disasters are rough on pets, especially the ones who have been left behind.