UGA cre­ates shel­ter for pets dur­ing emer­gen­cies

The Covington News - - Around the Region -

ATHENS (AP) — With hur­ri­cane sea­son in full swing, shel­ters throughout Ge­or­gia are pre­pared to take an in­flux of peo­ple dis­placed by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Once, though, many flee­ing the scene of flood­ing or tor­na­does had to leave pets be­hind.

That no longer is nec­es­sary, said Pete Golden, Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions co­or­di­na­tor for the Of­fice of Se­cu­rity and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia.

“Peo­ple won’t leave their pets, so a lot of times they will refuse to leave their home and ... put them­selves at risk,” Golden said.

To help, OSEP com­bined ef­forts with the Col­lege of Agri­cul­tural and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences, the UGA Community Emer­gency Re­sponse Team and the Col­lege of Ve­teri­nary Medicine to cre­ate a safe haven for peo­ple in need of shel­ter and their pets.

Congress passed the Pets Evac­u­a­tion and Trans­porta­tion Stan­dards Act in 2006, which re­quires states to ac­count for pets and ser­vice an­i­mals in times of dis­as­ter. If a hur­ri­cane hit the Ge­or­gia Coast to­mor­row, as many as 250 evac­uees could be housed at the Ram­sey Cen­ter while their pets could go about 5 miles away to the UGA Livestock In­struc­tional Arena on South Milledge Av­enue.

In the lobby, an­i­mals will be reg­is­tered at the Livestock Cen­ter and un­dergo a med­i­cal-in­take eval­u­a­tion by the ve­teri­nary col­lege. A triage area will also be set-up for an­i­mals in need of med­i­cal as­sis­tance or quar­an­tine.

All cats will be housed in the in­door space, which is cli­mate con­trolled.

Cats and dogs that need spe­cial care would be housed to­gether, but there is am­ple space to al­low for both, he said.

The group co­or­di­nat­ing the ef­fort re­cently held a trial reg­is­tra­tion us­ing stuffed toys in place of live an­i­mals. The shel­ter was opened and all the nec­es­sary equip­ment brought out.

“And we ... ran the (stuffed an­i­mals) through reg­is­tra­tion, sent them to the vet with triage and all an­i­mals had a card with de­tails about their in­di­vid­ual case on them,” Golden said.

A short time later, the group prac­ticed a take-down of the shel­ter.

“We learned a lot about ways to speed up the reg­is­tra­tion process; some of the lo­gis­tics of the build­ing,” said Golden.

Al­though the arena is large enough to house more than 1,000 an­i­mals, there has been a limit set based on the amount of work­ers and vol­un­teers avail­able to ac­com­mo­date dis­placed an­i­mals. There is no limit on how many an­i­mals per per­son can be ac­cepted.

“This is not a hard-fast num­ber ei­ther,” Golden said. “We won’t just cut it off. If we can han­dle it, we will take them.”

No rep­tiles, birds, livestock or horses will be ac­cepted. Cats, dogs and pocket pets

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