CFA Disaster Relief

"They are our pets. We domesticate them. We bring them into our lives and make them dependent on us for food, shelter, medical care, and love. In return, they enrich our lives in so many ways. Yet somehow, when disaster stiikes they often seem to fall between the cracks. This is not to say that human life is not more important, yet it seems as though a system ought to exist for them in times of disaster as it does for us. Often left behind in the urgency of the moment, like very small children they are at a loss to understand just why this is happening to them. Every underpinning in their life is suddenly gone. The people around which their lives revolved have vanished. Their homes as they have known them have disappeared. They are lost, alone, afraid, and often hungry, thirsty, and in pain. Somehow a system must exist for them as it does for us."

- Cat Fanciers' Almanac, December 1994

The CFA Disaster Relief Committee has undertaken the task to create such a system. In August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew slammed into heavily populated areas of southern Florida, in July 1994 when horrendous flooding took over the southeastern United States, and in January 1995 when the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake caused massive destruction in Japan - CFA offered support teams for rescue workers, and disaster relief aid for animals left homeless and injured in these natural disasters.

The lesson to be learned is to plan ahead. With Hurricane Fran (August/96) heading on a collision course with the southeastern United States, and with Tropical Storm Gustav coming across the Atlantic right on the heels of Hurricanes Eduoard and Fran, necessary planning for evacuation for yourself and your pets must be a priority. With the up-to-the minute course tracking of such occurences able to give us a high probability of where such a storm may reach land, we are fortunate that we have time to plan a rescue mission should one be needed, and have it ready for execution if one is required. CFA's disaster rescue network is quite extensive. In an impending disaster such as a hurricane, plan are made for shelters to be set up to receive animals whose owners must evacuate - animals are not allowed in "people shelters". If help is indeed needed, we will set up auxiliary shelters for animals to handle these evacuees, and those pets we are able to successfully rescue afterwards.

Pet owners must do their part to help in disasters by being prepared to be able to evacuate their homes, with their pets, at a moment's notice should it ever become necessary. Plan your course of action and evacuation strategy NOW! Be prepared to take your animals with you when you evacuate. Statistics show that over 90% of animals left behind to fend for themselves do not survive. Cat owners should have on hand enough pet carriers to evacuate your pets. In the event that you don't have a sufficient number of carriers, pillowcases with rope through the end to tie them make great emergency evacuation carriers for cats. Have a supply available to use at a moment's notice. The cat bag evacsack is the perfect carrier to have on hand and use in an emergency situation. If you live on the coast and a hurricane threatens, call friends inland and make plans for them to take in you and your pets should you have to evacuate. Better still, have a permanent understanding with your friends that you will arrive on their doorstep should you ever have to evacuate. Most of all, be prepared at all times!

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