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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Group to host open house on protecting pets in disasters

  • Human beings aren’t the only ones affected when disaster strikes, and now there are groups forming to aid those other victims.



    The Regional County Animal Response Team will have a Christmas open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Via Christi Hospital, lower level, to acquaint the public with the group and with ways they can protect the animals in their lives  in case of disaster.

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  • Human beings aren’t the only ones affected when disaster strikes, and now there are groups forming to aid those other victims.
    The Regional County Animal Response Team will have a Christmas open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Via Christi Hospital, lower level, to acquaint the public with the group and with ways they can protect the animals in their lives  in case of disaster.
    “Hurricane Katrina kind of precipitated all this,” said Sally Imhof, one of those behind the forming of the local group. “A lot of people left their pets. Others refused to leave them and some lost their lives as a result.”
    One thing that help is for families to have disaster plans made out in advance that include provisions for family pets. Information on this will be provided during the open house.
    “We want to educate the public on the importance of having a to-go get in case of emergencies,” said Bette Lessen. “The kit for pets would need to include many of the same things that the kit for other families would have, including any medications that are being taken and health records. There should also be some food, and canned pet foods are suggested rather than dry food for the kit. Other items would include a blanket or toy for the animal, leashes, whatever your pet needs.”
    Plans should also be made as to where the animal can go in case the human family members have to go into an emergency shelter. Most of these shelters do not accept pets for health and safety reasons, though Red Cross shelters will accept service animals who are aiding those with disabilities.
    Pets should also have some form of identification so that, if they are separated from their owners, they can eventually be reunited.
    “Chipping them is best,” Lessen said, referring to microchips placed under the skin of a dog, cat, horse or other animal. “A collar or tag might fall off, but a chip will not.”
    She added that Eldon Bedene, Crawford County emergency manager, had designated the Crawford County Fairgrounds as the place that animals can be temporarily housed during a disaster.
    “That’s for those who don’t have some other place to go,” Lessen added, noting that a pet’s veterinarian or a family member or friend not affected by the disaster might also provide temporary accommodations for an animal.
    There will also be information available for those interested in volunteering with the animal response team .
    “A number of us have taken training to be first responders for animals,” said Imhof, who is licensed in Kansas as a rehabilitator for wildlife, specializing in raptors and song birds.
    But there are other ways to help as well.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We need all kinds of volunteers,” Lessen said. “If you’re good with a telephone or good with people, we can use you. If you want to foster an animal until it can be reunited with its family after a disaster, we can use you.”
    Imhof said that the local group works with others in Montgomery, Bourbon and Cherokee Counties. SART (State Animal Response Team) is a statewide program divided into regions. Crawford County is in Region 7. President of the local group is Jim Clark, DVM, Pittsburg veterinarian.
    All interested persons may attend the open house. Refreshments will be served and door prizes will be given.
     
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