PITTSBURG — The Kansas State Animal Response Team recommends pet owners create a special bag for pets in case of a natural disaster.

KSSART provides care and assistance after natural or manmade disasters — including training for volunteers to teach them the skills they need for rescuing a wide range of animals — from cats to horses. The disaster responders do not self-deploy, but are deployed by the county emergency management director.

Just like human emergency kits for natural disasters, it is recommended to make one for pets too, KSSART Regional Liaison Tami Johnson said.

“We’re just not ‘animal people,’” Johnson said. “We understand the bond people have with their pets … there are a lot of people who are very bonded to their pets, that becomes critical to their well-being during a disaster.”

Johnson said she encourages people to evacuate with their pets, which will also need necessities just like their owners — including food, medication, documents and other special need items.

The more prepared, she said, the quicker the processing is to find the lost pet or to keep pets safe. People should also identify a pet friendly place to evacuate to, and if one cannot be found consider making rearrangements with a friend, neighbor or family member.

In case a pet is on the loose, it would help make the process of finding the pet if it is tagged and had identification, she said.
People can also stay informed during a disaster with CodeRED Launcher which is an emergency application for mobile phones. The application is a “real-time emergency, community, missing person and severe weather alerts to users within the area of impact,” KSSART website said.  
Johnson said if people would like to volunteer for KSSART there are two pathways volunteers can take – community volunteer and disaster responder. People can learn more about volunteering, along with other safety information at kssart.org.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.