AniCura Dyresykehus Stavanger—AWAKE Veterinary Outreach, WSAVA AWWC, Stavanger, Norway
In case of natural disasters, and other emergencies, members of the public will often be offered shelter by organizations like the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations or government institutions. Such shelters are generally set up to deal with human health and safety, but rarely will consider or permit companion animals. Animal shelters can play a vital role in these circumstances and be a life-saving solution for both animals and humans, as we have seen several examples of pet owners refusing to evacuate a dangerous area and leave the pets behind, thereby endangering their own lives to keep their pets safe.
The purpose for most animal shelters is to provide refuge for animals that are abandoned, lost or otherwise homeless until they can be reunited with their owners or re-homed. In case of disasters a sheltering organization may be faced with the request to quickly house large numbers of animals. This often requires additional emergency housing to be set up in already existing facilities, or assembly of temporary structures for sheltering until the animals can be returned to their owners, moved to more permanent facilities, adopted into new homes, or, if warranted, euthanized. Emergency sheltering equipment is then typically disassembled, and supplies stored until the next crisis arises.
While many shelter medicine principles apply to both emergency shelters and traditional brick-and-mortar facilities, there are significant differences that must be recognized to ensure humane animal care in a disaster situation. This lecture aims to provide practical recommendations on how to best maximize available resources to properly care for animals during and following a disaster. Some the topics to be considered are suitable spaces for emergency shelters, housing unit requirements, sanitation, staffing, and how to provide humane animal care and medical care.