Westshore CERT hosts emergency animal response training

Veterinarian Dr. Frank Krupka trains CERT volunteers to interact with animals during an emergency. Photo by John Sanders

On Saturday April 25, the Westshore Regional CERT hosted a free all-day seminar designed to prepare CERT volunteers to safely and effectively interact with animals as part of emergency preparedness. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. It is a community directed program developed by FEMA to prepare a trained corps of citizen volunteers to assist first responders in meeting the immediate needs of the affected population following a major disaster. Tricia Granfors, Westshore Regional CERT Coordinator, and Dr. Frank Krupka, Avon Lake Animal Clinic, co-taught the course.  

The first line of defense in planning for the care of animals in an emergency situation is for everyone to have a plan for the care or evacuation of their own animals. Because animals other than documented service animals are generally not allowed in evacuation vehicles or emergency shelters, you should plan to include all necessary animal supplies in a “go kit” to take with you when you and your animals evacuate together. The kit should include your animals’ vaccination certificates, necessary medicines, veterinarian contact information, food and water for three days, bowls, collars, leashes, kennels or carriers, bedding, litter box and litter, and toys. 

Plan in advance where you can go with your animals, make sure all animals have identification tags and/or chips, and their immunizations are up to date. If you must evacuate without your animals, leave them in a safe place indoors with a two week supply of food and water. Raise the toilet seat and block open the bathroom door for additional drinking water. Put a notice outdoors where first responders will be sure to see it, stating what pets are in the house and your contact information.

Animal response training is an essential part of an emergency plan whether it involves evacuation or sheltering in place. A large number of people have household pets that need to be cared for, some of which may be exotic or dangerous animals, but even well-trained and submissive domestic animals may become dangerous when frightened, disoriented, hungry or in pain, especially if a stranger is interacting with them. 

Some families in the Westshore also keep farm animals that could be affected by an emergency, including poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and llamas. In the event of a natural disaster such as fire or flood, an emergency response volunteer may even need to care for or contain injured or displaced wild animals. Participants acquired much information that will be useful in daily life, including basic animal behavior, safety considerations when dealing with animals, and techniques for approaching unknown dogs.

The training session took place at the Westlake Service Center on Bassett Road. Forty-five CERT volunteers and animal advocates from all over northeastern Ohio attended the training, including three members of the Friends of the Bay Village Kennel.

susan murnane

historian, legal historian, former tax lawyer, author of Bankruptcy in an Industrial Society: The History of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Akron University Press, 2014)

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:19 AM, 05.05.2015