Emergency and disaster planning at Ohio animal shelters

Decker, S. M., Lord, L. K., Walker, W. L., & Wittum, T. E. (2010). Emergency and disaster planning at Ohio animal shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 13(1), 66-76.

Research question: 1) Are animal agencies aware of the PETS Act of 2006 and 2) What steps have animal agencies taken to plan for emergencies and disasters

Sample: Ohio humane societies, animal care and control agencies, and dog wardens with permanent facilities who responded to a survey between August and November, 2007 (n=115 responses of 170 surveys sent; 68% response rate)

Methodology: Surveys were mailed to animal care and control facilities which have a permanent facility in Ohio. Rescues groups based out of private homes were excluded from the study. The survey asked questions about the facilities, veterinary services, and emergency preparedness.

Main Findings

Of survey respondents, 33% reported that they were aware of the PETS Act of 2006, which “mandates that state governments include companion animals and assistance animals in emergency and disaster response planning in order to receive federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).”

With regard to emergency and disaster response planning:

  • 24% had not discussed the issue
  • 42% had discussed the issue
  • 19% were developing a plan
  • 13% had developed a plan
  • 1% had developed a plan and completed a simulation

Nearly one half (49%) of agencies had networked with other preparedness groups (such as the American Red Cross or Community Emergency Response Team) in their community. About 32% were aware that their community had a local veterinary medical association (VMA), and of that group, 64% were in contact with the VMA. Over one half (51%) were unsure if they had a local VMA.

When asked which kinds of support agencies could provide to their community in the event of an emergency:

  • 20% could provide no resources
  • 52% could provide personnel
  • 57% could provide temporary housing
  • 15% could provide veterinary care
  • 7% could provide monetary support
  • 41% could provide medical and/or food supplies
  • 4% could provide other unspecified resources

 

Limitations: The survey response rate was 68%, so it is possible that this is not a completely representative sample of Ohio. Additionally, rescue groups without permanent facilities are not represented in this study. Similarly, this study cannot be extrapolated to other geographic regions.

Summary by Katherine Grillaert

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