During a disaster, residents may be forced to evacuate their homes, and many will want to take their pets with them. However, finding an emergency shelter that accommodates pets can be difficult, if not impossible. To ensure the health and welfare of pets are met during disasters, Scott County Emergency Management is now including pet sheltering in its emergency evacuation plans. They are also seeking the help of volunteers to organize and establish a Pet Sheltering Team.
If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. So, it should come as no surprise that during a disaster, some pet owners will refuse to evacuate or will delay evacuation if they are unable to bring their pets with them to safety. Some people may even attempt dangerous or illegal reentry of evacuation sites before it’s safe to do so in order to rescue their animals. Evacuation noncompliance not only puts civilians in danger, but also first responders who may need to help evacuate those who refused to leave.
Some residents in Jordan experienced the stress of evacuating their homes in early 2019 when extensive flooding caused an entire neighborhood, including many pets, to evacuate their homes. During this time, Scott County Emergency Management opened the very first Pet Shelter in Minnesota history, to support these beloved, displaced pets. This pet shelter was staffed by County employees and a group of volunteers organized under the SAFCOM (Scott County Safety Communications Group) unit of the Sheriff’s Office.
We are seeking additional volunteers to assist with pet care and sheltering for displaced pets during future disasters. Volunteers will receive training on how to safely care for animals in a disaster. The Pet Sheltering Team will deploy to a shelter location, set up and maintain 24-hour care for domestic pets of evacuees by alternating shifts during the period of need.
“An emergency evacuation plan that includes pets can contribute to community safety and evacuation compliance,” said Sheriff Luke Hennen. “The addition of more volunteers and focused training will ensure future evacuations will continue to be managed at a high level.”
If you are interested in joining the pet sheltering team or volunteering to support Scott County in a disaster, please contact volunteer coordinator Cara Madsen at (952) 496-8169 or CMadsen@co.scott.mn.us.
For more information on emergency preparedness for pets, visit www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies
Reserve Deputy comforting dog at pet shelter in 2019
Maggie Holbeck, a pet shelter volunteer during Jordan flood evacuation in 2019