Preparing for the worst

Preparing for the worst

AVMA, AVMF and the Red Cross collaborate to ensure animal safety during disasters
Jun 01, 2009
By staff

NATIONAL REPORT — To better coordinate animal-rescue efforts during times of disaster, a decade-old "statement of understanding" between the AVMA, AVMF and the American Red Cross is now formalized.

The new Memorandum of Understanding, which lays the groundwork for increased cooperation between the national organizations, replaces the original agreement penned in 1998.

It is estimated that 100,000 animals, pets and livestock are separated from their owners and/or lost during a major natural disaster. Often owners are forced to leave their pets behind.

One of the goals of the Memorandum Of Understanding is to reverse this trend.

Chicago chapters of the Red Cross and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have been meeting already to find temporary housing for pets after house fires.

"Many people choose to sleep in their cars simply because they can't find a home for their pets," explains Dr. Heather Case, AVMA coordinator for emergency preparedness and response.

A new program being developed by the two groups in Chicago would create a network of local veterinarians that would board the animal victims of a house fire. Once implemented in Chicago, it's hoped that it will be duplicated across the country, officials say.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) is the charitable branch of the AVMA that funds disaster response and emergency preparedness training. The AVMF will help fund programs developed under this cooperative arrangement. The AVMA will serve as a technical adviser to the Red Cross on all animal and veterinary-related aspects of disaster-response efforts.