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Mobile Pet Shelter for Disasters Becoming a Reality

November 24, 2014

Baton Rouge, La. (November­­­ 24, 2014) – Construction is expected to begin in December for a mobile pet shelter scheduled to be in use by the 2015 hurricane season.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said, “The evacuation, transportation and sheltering of household pets during disasters has become necessary as a lifesaving measure. What we have experienced in the past are victims who have refused assistance unless their pets were accommodated.”  

The LDAF is designated by the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act to evacuate, transport and shelter household pets during declared emergencies. A $40,000 donation was made by the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), Dr. Walter J. Ernst, Jr. Veterinary Memorial Foundation and Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA) to help fund a project to develop a mobile pet sheltering system. 

“The Louisiana State Animal Response Team, Dr. Walter J. Ernst, Jr. Veterinary Memorial Foundation and Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association are pleased to participate in funding this important capability for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to assist people with pets in getting out of harm’s way during disasters and emergencies. We appreciate the role of LSU and the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI) in making this possible,” said H. Bland O’Connor, Jr., Executive Director, Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association.

“The Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) under the LSU Stephenson Disaster Management Institute is made up of individuals representing local, state and federal governments, academia and private institutions with expertise in emergency animal preparedness, response and recovery matters. The ADAG focuses on utilizing a strategic approach to improving the care of animals during an emergency. The ultimate objective is to save lives and prevent the suffering of both humans and animals involved in a disaster. This generous donation will help us complete this important project by providing a much needed capability to shelter and care for animals impacted by a disaster,” said Pat Santos, Chairman of the ADAG.

LDAF’s household pet plan includes 48-53 foot transport trucks with assembled pet cages and staff to assist parishes with the evacuation, transportation and sheltering of evacuees’ pets.  The LDAF’s current pet sheltering plan can accommodate thousands of pets at mega pet shelters. The new mobile pet shelter unit will also be used in search and rescue missions and will be available, upon request, to other states during a disaster.

Strain added, “The benefit of a mobile pet shelter is immediate onsite sheltering and care of pets affected by a disaster, the ease of safe transport of pets, reduced expense of sheltering and care and the ability to relocate quickly to be co-located with pet owners.”

The project includes a tractor trailer that will have a 60 pet capacity. It will be equipped with metal cages, feed, water bowls and a wash down system. It will have an air ventilation system to provide proper air circulation and temperature for the pets.

The total cost of the project is approximately $80,000. The LDAF will provide the additional funding.