Shelter from the storm

St. Louis County is among the most recent recipients of an American Kennel Club Pet Disaster Relief trailer

By Sara Hardin

In the midst of rebuilding from the destruction left behind by this year’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the importance of disaster preparedness echoes more clearly than ever throughout the affected areas.

Among the groups assisting in the aftermath is the team with American Kennel Club’s AKC Pet Disaster Relief, a national program devoted to the protection of pets and pet owners after natural or civil disasters. The program provides equipment essential in sheltering and caring for animals within special Pet Disaster Relief trailers, which are donated by AKC to areas that can benefit from their use. The need for these mobile trailers was realized after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern U.S. in 2005, a catastrophe that left thousands without homes and in many cases separated from their pets.

“What we have learned over the years, especially starting back with Katrina, is that after a disaster hits is not the right time to figure out what you’re going to do to help pets. It’s better to do that before the disaster hits,” explained Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC Reunite. “The trailers are very well thought out by the people who care for pets during disasters. They have all the equipment that you need to do an emergency shelter for pets. We donate the trailers to the emergency management first responders so that they have them in place before the disaster strikes. They have crates, a generator, cleaning supplies and identification supplies like microchips and a scanner. It’s all loaded up on the trailer ready to go.”

St. Louis County is among the most recent recipients of one of the AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers. The trailer will be deployed by emergency responders to assist in sheltering pets in the event of flooding or any other disaster in the county’s surrounding areas. If a human shelter ever needs setting up in the region, the trailer can be made available in the same location to avoid separating pets from their owners.

“It is important to have an AKC trailer in St. Louis County because the area has experienced disasters such as flooding and tornadoes. In these situations residents often need to evacuate from their homes quickly, and it is not always possible to provide for their beloved pets,” said Colette Weishaar, President and ShowChair of Three Rivers Kennel Club. “Before the AKC trailers, displaced pets could end up at the Humane Society, a shelter, the pound or on the streets.”

Over $22,000 in donations and grants for the trailer were raised locally by the Labrador Retriever Club, the North Arkansas Kennel Club, the Three Rivers Kennel Club, the Edwardsville Illinois Kennel Club and AKC Reunite. The trailer was then donated by AKC to the St. Louis County emergency responders, who are now equipped with everything needed to ensure the safety and comfort of animals recovered from disaster scenes. In a situation when evacuating to a shelter becomes necessary, the trailer becomes hugely important in making pets and their owners more comfortable while separated from their homes.

“This trailer was 100 percent donated, and it is a regional asset,” said Michele Ryan, Logistics Specialist for St. Louis County Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management. “Before the trailer, pets were being very well cared for down at the Humane Society or the APA [Animal Protective Association]. However, you lose that connection with the owner. It’s stressful for the dog, and the person who is now in a shelter. They have no idea what kind of environment their pet is in, who’s taking care of it, if they’re feeding it the right food, that kind of thing. For a lot of people, their pets are their children. [The trailer] relieves some of the strain of the volunteers who are caring for those pets, because their owner is right down the hall. The owner worries less about how the pet is being cared for, and the pet’s stress is reduced because Mom and Dad are right there.”

Since the program’s inception in 2013, 62 AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers have been donated to various locations across the county. St. Louis County’s addition brings Missouri’s total trailers to two, the second being located in Columbia. Each trailer has the capacity to help shelter up to 65 pets, and will be dispatched to any surrounding county in need of its equipment.

“Mostly on the coasts right now, the trend is co-locating these shelters, people and pets. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” said Ryan. “We’re really excited to have [the trailer] and to be able to do that here in St. Louis now.”

Learn more about AKC Pet Disaster Relief and how to get involved at akcreunite.org/relief.

St. Louis County is among the most recent recipients of an American Kennel Club Pet Disaster Relief trailer

By Sara Hardin

In the midst of rebuilding from the destruction left behind by this year’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the importance of disaster preparedness echoes more clearly than ever throughout the affected areas.

Among the groups assisting in the aftermath is the team with American Kennel Club’s AKC Pet Disaster Relief, a national program devoted to the protection of pets and pet owners after natural or civil disasters. The program provides equipment essential in sheltering and caring for animals within special Pet Disaster Relief trailers, which are donated by AKC to areas that can benefit from their use. The need for these mobile trailers was realized after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern U.S. in 2005, a catastrophe that left thousands without homes and in many cases separated from their pets.

“What we have learned over the years, especially starting back with Katrina, is that after a disaster hits is not the right time to figure out what you’re going to do to help pets. It’s better to do that before the disaster hits,” explained Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC Reunite. “The trailers are very well thought out by the people who care for pets during disasters. They have all the equipment that you need to do an emergency shelter for pets. We donate the trailers to the emergency management first responders so that they have them in place before the disaster strikes. They have crates, a generator, cleaning supplies and identification supplies like microchips and a scanner. It’s all loaded up on the trailer ready to go.”

St. Louis County is among the most recent recipients of one of the AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers. The trailer will be deployed by emergency responders to assist in sheltering pets in the event of flooding or any other disaster in the county’s surrounding areas. If a human shelter ever needs setting up in the region, the trailer can be made available in the same location to avoid separating pets from their owners.

“It is important to have an AKC trailer in St. Louis County because the area has experienced disasters such as flooding and tornadoes. In these situations residents often need to evacuate from their homes quickly, and it is not always possible to provide for their beloved pets,” said Colette Weishaar, President and ShowChair of Three Rivers Kennel Club. “Before the AKC trailers, displaced pets could end up at the Humane Society, a shelter, the pound or on the streets.”

Over $22,000 in donations and grants for the trailer were raised locally by the Labrador Retriever Club, the North Arkansas Kennel Club, the Three Rivers Kennel Club, the Edwardsville Illinois Kennel Club and AKC Reunite. The trailer was then donated by AKC to the St. Louis County emergency responders, who are now equipped with everything needed to ensure the safety and comfort of animals recovered from disaster scenes. In a situation when evacuating to a shelter becomes necessary, the trailer becomes hugely important in making pets and their owners more comfortable while separated from their homes.

“This trailer was 100 percent donated, and it is a regional asset,” said Michele Ryan, Logistics Specialist for St. Louis County Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management. “Before the trailer, pets were being very well cared for down at the Humane Society or the APA [Animal Protective Association]. However, you lose that connection with the owner. It’s stressful for the dog, and the person who is now in a shelter. They have no idea what kind of environment their pet is in, who’s taking care of it, if they’re feeding it the right food, that kind of thing. For a lot of people, their pets are their children. [The trailer] relieves some of the strain of the volunteers who are caring for those pets, because their owner is right down the hall. The owner worries less about how the pet is being cared for, and the pet’s stress is reduced because Mom and Dad are right there.”

Since the program’s inception in 2013, 62 AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailers have been donated to various locations across the county. St. Louis County’s addition brings Missouri’s total trailers to two, the second being located in Columbia. Each trailer has the capacity to help shelter up to 65 pets, and will be dispatched to any surrounding county in need of its equipment.

“Mostly on the coasts right now, the trend is co-locating these shelters, people and pets. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” said Ryan. “We’re really excited to have [the trailer] and to be able to do that here in St. Louis now.”

Learn more about AKC Pet Disaster Relief and how to get involved at akcreunite.org/relief.