The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has launched a new public service announcement initiative entitled Disaster Ready to convey the importance of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of animals during natural disasters that have grown in intensity and frequency in recent years. The campaign is being launched as part of National Preparedness Month, recognized each September as a means to raise awareness about preparing for disasters and other emergencies.
IFAW’s Disaster Response and Risk Reduction (DRRR) program, which dispatches responders to areas around the world where animals are in distress, offers a range of emergency support services including animal search and rescue, temporary animal sheltering, aid distribution, as well as undertaking reunification efforts between animals and their owners. The most recent domestic responses have involved deployment to states including Kentucky and Louisiana in the wake of disaster events resulting from hurricanes and flooding. As many disasters can occur in a very short period of time, those affected have little time to prepare and evacuate. With a special focus on pet owners, IFAW’s new Disaster Ready campaign aims to inform the general public what preparatory actions they must take regarding their pets in the event of a disaster.
According to Shannon Walatjys, IFAW Program Director for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction, “We know that disasters are becoming all too common. But we aren’t powerless when it comes to working toward a better outcome with regard to our animals. Our Disaster Ready initiative is central to raising awareness about what people can do to prepare themselves as well as their pets. The more disaster ready we all are, the more animals will survive.”
IFAW’s Disaster Ready campaign encourages owners to ensure that their disaster planning includes all animals—pets, farm animals and wildlife. The initiative will utilize multiple communications elements and encourages a checklist for preparedness that includes:
- Writing down a preparedness plan with your family: Including your pets and animals in the planning process, identifying pet-friendly options for shelter. Share the plan with friends and neighbors in the event of separation from your pet;
- Getting your pet microchipped and registering the information with a national database;
- Keeping proper identification of your pets: Always keep a collar on your pet with their name and your personal contact number;
- Securing access to appropriate transport or pet carriers and kennels on hand;
- Preparing an Emergency Go-Bag for your pets: Creating an emergency kit including medications, vaccination records, food and water and an additional pet collar with identification tag;
- Keeping a decal in your home’s door or window indicating the number and types of pets you have; and
- Evacuating with Your Pets: When you go, they go! Never leave a pet behind, chained or caged.
According to Walatjys, “When owners take pre-emptive action to prepare a plan involving their pets in the event of a disaster, there are ultimately fewer animals in need of rescue. This allows organizations such as IFAW to come in and reach those animals who are in most desperate need for our help.”
Click to view the campaign website and television PSA as well as to download the animal disaster preparedness resources. IFAW encourages sharing these campaign resources with friends, family and the local community so they too can be disaster ready for animals.