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LDAF planners conduct pet evacuation/sheltering exercise

April 19, 2011

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said a pet evacuation and sheltering training session that included representatives from Orleans and Jefferson parish Offices of Emergency Preparedness was conducted at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s (LDAF) Baton Rouge headquarters today.
Representatives of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and Louisiana National Guard (LANG) also took part in the tabletop exercise.
“It’s essential that we are prepared in the event of an emergency to help our residents with critical transportation needs to evacuate with their household pets,” Strain said. “We continue to review our existing emergency plans and fine tune them to make an owner/pet evacuation work as smoothly as possible.”
Captain Neal Fudge of the LANG, Josh Gill and First Sergeant David Parker of the DCFS, Larry Gill of DOTD, Collins Simoneaux of the Orleans Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness and Brian DuPlaisir of the Jefferson Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness observed as LDAF planners ran through a simulated hurricane evacuation event called Hurricane Aric.
Strain said the LDAF incident management team members from the entire state participated in the daylong simulation.  
LDAF Emergency Program Director John Walther said the LDAF has plans to activate shelters for critical transportation needs owners/pets in Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe on an as-needed basis.
SES, Inc., an emergency planning consulting firm, conducted the exercise and will provide an improvement worksheet for the LDAF.
Strain said the LDAF is one of the few state agencies whose personnel have completed training to become compliant with National Incident Management Systems requirements.
During 2008’s Hurricane Gustav event, 1,604 pets whose owners had critical transportation needs were evacuated from Orleans, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Calcasieu and St. Mary parishes. Forty percent of the pets traveled with their owners on buses provided by the state.