APNM Supporting Efforts to Improve Evacuation Plans
Ever since the devastating images of pets left behind during Hurricane Katrina, and after major evacuations of Los Alamos and Ruidoso in 2011 and 2012, more New Mexicans are thinking about how to deal with the evacuation needs of over 70 percent of New Mexican families who have companion animals. Leaving animals behind not only endangers the animals but creates potential risks and loss for people as well.
For over a year, Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM), a statewide animal advocacy organization, has been working at all levels to increase awareness and encourage more conversations about this important piece of emergency management. Working with state agencies, community groups, and local emergency managers, APNM is expanding their online Disaster Preparedness information and developing a statewide Emergency Animal Resources Guide for use by emergency response officials.
Today, a number of individual citizens, local organizations, and dedicated emergency managers are taking significant steps toward making a big difference for animals in community planning and preparedness efforts around the state. Local and county agencies are rewriting emergency operations and evacuation plans, exploring options to locate emergency animal shelters at or near human shelters, coordinating with neighboring jurisdictions for animal sheltering support, expanding training opportunities for animal response teams, and including animal scenarios in emergency exercises and drills.
Individuals can do the same by creating their own plans, talking to neighbors about a buddy system if they’re not home during an evacuation, and conducting family fire drills with their animals. Sharon Jonas, APNM’s Disaster Preparedness Program Coordinator, recommends making a ‘To Do List’ today to start your own disaster planning. “Write down everything you need to do to be ready if you have to evacuate: creating an evacuation plan, preparing Emergency Kits for both people and animals, deciding where you would go and where to take your animals,” suggests Ms. Jonas. “Then make more detailed lists of what to put in your Emergency Kits, what supplies you need, which documents to gather, what to research online, and who to call.” Having proper identification with your animals, photos of you and your animals, and copies of vaccination records are also critical for emergency sheltering or if your animal is lost.
APNM’s Disaster Preparedness webpage (apnm.org/disaster) has a wide range of advice and resources on disaster planning, updates on what’s happening around the state, and contacts for volunteers.
Keeping You and Your Animals Safe When Disaster Strikes
When it’s not safe for you, it isn’t safe for your animals either. With another dangerously dry year, one can’t help but think, What would I do with my animals? Where would we go? How would I move them? …take care of them? …keep them safe? If you haven’t already answered these questions yourself to make your own plan, Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) suggests you begin TODAY.
1. Be Ready To Do List – what you need to do, what to buy, documents to gather, who to call, and what to research online, and talking to neighbors about a buddy system in case you’re not home when your area is evacuated.
2. Supplies for your Animal Emergency Kit for 3-7 days away from home.
3. What you’ll need to do, a detailed Evacuation Plan for both people and animals.
3. Safe Places to bring your animals. Contact information for friends, family, pet-friendly hotels, animal shelters or veterinarians in nearby communities (confirm arrangements first).
4. Grab-And-Go List of important last-minute items not in your Evacuation Kit.
5. ID Ready. Have identification and emergency contact number with your animal (always); microchip your animals; label collars, harnesses, crates and carriers; have a photo of you with your animals.
6. Become part of the solution in your community:
Join New Mexico Citizen Corps or offer to help create a planning committee (contact www.nmdhsem.org/Citizen_Corp.aspx, 505-476-9633 or your local emergency manager)
Participate in training or rescue exercises for you or your animals
Ask your county or municipal Emergency Management Office about what’s going on in your community to address the needs of families with companion animals during a disaster and how you can help
Become an emergency response volunteer or join a volunteer network at:
➢ APNM at 505-265-2322, ext. 23
➢ your local animal shelter (see local listings or APNM’s NM Animal Resources Guide at www.apnm.org/nmarg)
➢ Equine Protection Fund (www.equineprotectionfund.org or 505-967-5297)
➢ NM Back Country Horsemen, seven chapters (www.bchnm.org or 505-753-3531)
➢ New Mexico’s seven Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT’s) (http://www.citizencorps.gov/cc/CertIndex.do?reportsForState&cert=&state=NM)