NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), in partnership with the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management and Galveston County Health District, today announced a collaboration to assist the animal victims of future natural disasters in Galveston County, Texas.
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team will assist county agencies in the rescue, transportation, and humane care of evacuated, stray, or abandoned animals in the event of a natural disaster. The ASPCA will also assist the County of Galveston in complying with the requirements of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act.
"When a disaster strikes, large numbers of animals require immediate care and housing," said Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "The ASPCA recognizes the importance of planning ahead and assembling the necessary resources to care for animal victims, and we are proud to offer the assistance of our specialized staff to Galveston County to ensure the safety and well-being of the community's animal companions."
Galveston County is located in southeast Texas along the Texas Gulf Coast and is often vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tropical storms and flash floods. In September 2008, the ASPCA deployed members of its Field Investigations and Response team, at the request of the Texas State Animal Resource Team and the Texas Animal Health Commission, to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. The ASPCA team included veterinarians, disaster responders and sheltering professionals who assisted several county animal control agencies in conducting field assessments and rescuing animal victims.
"Galveston County is pleased to partner with the ASPCA," said John Simsen, emergency management coordinator for Galveston County. "The staff and volunteers provide us with much needed animal expertise and assistance in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Ike. When the ASPCA is in the field during a disaster, we know that companion animals are being take care of in the best way possible."
"The Health District has a variety of responsibilities after a disaster regarding both human and animal health concerns," said Dr. Mark Guidry, the Galveston County Health District's Chief Executive Officer and Health Authority. "We welcome this agreement with the ASPCA which increases the capacity of the county to respond to emergency animal health issues."
"As we approach the beginning of hurricane season, we hope that pet owners are taking the necessary steps to plan ahead and establish an evacuation plan in an event of a disaster," added the ASPCA's Rickey.
The ASPCA Field Investigation and Response team has responded to other natural disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, but is more commonly called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations. In 2010, the team investigated nearly 120 cases, including blood sports, puppy mills and animal hoarding. In addition, the ASPCA team also provides training, resources, and assistance to animal welfare and law enforcement professionals responding to animal issues.
For information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, please click here.