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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September starts disaster preparedness month

Coordinator Columbia/ Montour County SART
& Steeler

Many who know me know that I am very involved with the State Animal Response Team (SART) and although I’m a little late in this post with the busy month that the team has had, my thought is, better late than never! Even though September may hold the title “Disaster Preparedness month,” it’s good to be prepared year round and check your supplies at least twice a year. Similar to when you change your clock for daylight savings time and you are reminded to also check your smoke detector batteries. Well, add to the list checking your pet's emergency supply bag!
Hmm, might not be a bad idea to go public with that one!

Recently our team once again presented themselves in one of the largest state fairs to raise funds and awareness for our county’s SART. I am glad to say that the stats show that with each year our purpose is getting better known. We are not just seen as the people who have the big black dogs anymore! So I thank you for listening to my spiel every year!

I would also like to thank those patrons who unloaded their pockets into the donation jug near the big black dogs or who took the time to view our items and gladly traded with us a couple of dollars for a wanted item. The money that you all so graciously gave will stay in the county to help move, shelter, and rescue your animals in a disaster. Hey, it doesn’t get better than that! How often do you give to a cause where it stays right there in your own hometown?

On October 6, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the “No Pets Left Behind” act, which came on the heels of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Sadly that’s what it took to have our pets recognized. I often wonder how many people stayed in their homes because they would not leave their pets behind, or how many braved the storm only to be turned away from shelters because they brought their pets with them. I also wonder how many humans and pets died because of this breakdown in the human /pet evacuation process.

Well good news folks! SART is here to tell you that in Pennsylvania we want you to take your pets with you should you need to evacuate in a disaster situation. Our shelters will be set up for your animals and we are there to keep them safe, happy, and healthy during the first critical hours/days, (longer if needed), when a disaster strikes. Remember, a disaster can be Mother Nature motivated, or man made pure evil.

Even if you are not at home when a disaster strikes you can stop at one of our shelters, fill out a form, and when it is safe to do so we will send out a rescue team to bring your pets back to our shelter.
The Columbia/Montour SART is one of the first to team up with a local Chapter area of the Red Cross. That in itself is exciting news and hopefully other SART’s will be able to do the same in their counties. Since we are teamed up with the Danville Area Chapter of the Red Cross, this means that misplaced people will be in one side of the Danville High School and their pets will be housed on the other side. Thus making daily visits with your pet much easier.

To view the Danville Area Chapter of the Red Cross, click here. They are in need of volunteers, so put your idle time to good use.

Even with all of the above in place, there are still a few things that you can do to help us as well! (Aren’t you glad you asked?)

Keep in your wallet a Pet ID card should you be rendered unconscious or incapacitated. I have a copy of such a card here on the blog so take your mouse right click on the picture and push “save picture as” and keep it with your own pictures so you can print it off as needed. Let’s face it, if you’re like me, your animal population changes from year to year!

Follow the list below and you will be halfway there to a safe evacuation plan with your pets!

One very important note, learn the area you live in! Know alternative routes as small creeks often flood local roads. Don’t try to drive through a flooded road!

Items you should have ready for your pet’s evacuation:

A crate. It is easier for us if you can bring your animal in a crate.

A grab and go bag that you can easily grab on your way out the door which should contain:

1.A first aid kit with a small bottle of water, for eye or wound rinsing.

2. Extra collar, leash, favorite toy, & bedding.

3.Manual can opener,

4.Up to date shot records and rabies certificates. (Please note, if you cannot prove your dog is up to date on shots and is healthy it may be put in a quarantine area.)

5.The animal's Veterinarian (phone number, address).

6. Instructions on medications, illnesses, and special needs.

7. Write down any pertinent information on a piece of paper such any aggressive tendencies, identifying marks, information on tattoos and microchips.

8. Include a picture of you and your pet together for identification purposes.

9. On all paperwork include the animal's name and one or two phone numbers where you can be reached as well as leave contact information of at least three friends or relatives.

10. Ready made notes informing rescue where in the home your animals are, how many animals you have, and where to find your animal emergency kit. These can be placed on the front and back of the home just before an impending disaster.

11. All paperwork should be kept in a waterproof bag.

12 Keep a flashlight should you need to find the animal in the dark, Check the batteries regularly

13 If you have a pregnant bitch put a heating pad or warming bottle in the bag as well.

Ideas for Identification for the majority of pets.

Companion animals: Collar and tags, microchip, and tattoo. If you do not have tags for your animal write the information right on the collar itself in permanent marker.

Horses/ livestock: Microchip, tattoo, neck or leg bands, harness marking, ear tags, or mark on hooves.

Birds: Leg bands. Mark cage with luggage tags, or write information on the bottom of the cage with permanent marker.

Pocket pets: Write information on cage in permanent marker. Make sure the lids & cage doors are secure!

Reptiles: Can be marked on the skin with permanent marker, write information on masking tape in permanent marker and place onto cage/aquarium. (note: many SART’s may not be equipped to handle reptiles and where possible would send the reptiles to a business that can handle them.)

Remember that during a disaster it is a stressful situation for all involved and although you may not understand why a SART is asking for specific items, there is a reason, and the sooner we can move people and pets through the doors the better and less stressful for all involved.

Columbia & Montour Counties have several shelters but our main shelters are:

Berwick school district
Bloomsburg University (Annie’s place)
Danville High School
& Danville Child Development Center

Normally I would direct you to a link just by saying click here, however this is so important that I want you to SAY THE LINKS OUT LOUD and remember them, should the spirit move you at a later time to volunteer! (I’m sure all the bold caps will help in your decision to do that!)

If you live in Pennsylvania you can visit  and get the name of the coordinator in your county, or, if you would like to sign up to volunteer you can also do that on line and a coordinator will contact you.

If you do not live in Pennsylvania and want to know if you have a SART (or similar) in your state visit  and click on your state in the map of the USA.

For my Canadian friends (thanks Dr. Fiona!) 

This book that I found online may be helpful to you as well

If you have young children (preschool to grade 2) I have written a story/coloring book which you can download here for free ( It may take a minute to load).  SART gives this out free during their events. It’s a great way to put some control in your child’s hands when things seem uncontrollable to them. After 20 years of working with children I have learned never to underestimate the mind of the young child!

Click here for the video of a grab and go bag, this is good for kids to get an understanding of what they would need. There are some pictures of flooding but nothing graphic. Also kids in the 4H or scouts can get involved as long as there is parent support.

To view  Chance & Steeler at this years fair and some of the wonderful people who stopped to see them click here.

 Commissioner Kovach & Steeler

& I love the "Think Pink" just under Steeler's Picture as he was recently a supporter
raising money for breast cancer awareness in his "Fight like a Girl" Tee shirt!

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