UGA creates emergency shelter for pets
by Associated Press Wire
September 26, 2012 09:59 PM | 622 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATHENS — With hurricane season in full swing, shelters throughout Georgia are prepared to take an influx of people displaced by natural disasters. Once, though, many fleeing the scene of flooding or tornadoes had to leave pets behind.

That no longer is necessary, said Pete Golden, Emergency Operations coordinator for the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness at the University of Georgia.

“People won’t leave their pets, so a lot of times they will refuse to leave their home and ... put themselves at risk,” Golden said.

To help, OSEP combined efforts with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the UGA Community Emergency Response Team and the College of Veterinary Medicine to create a safe haven for people in need of shelter and their pets.

Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act in 2006, which requires states to account for pets and service animals in times of disaster. If a hurricane hit the Georgia Coast tomorrow, as many as 250 evacuees could be housed at the Ramsey Center while their pets could go about five miles away to the UGA Livestock Instructional Arena on South Milledge Avenue.

The Ramsey Center, which is a Red Cross-approved shelter, would first register people into the facility. Once an evacuee is registered, they can then bring their paperwork to the arena along with their pets.

In the lobby, animals will be registered at the Livestock Center and undergo a medical-intake evaluation by the veterinary college. A triage area will also be set-up for animals in need of medical assistance or quarantine.

All cats will be housed in the indoor space, which is climate controlled.

“Some dogs are heat intolerant, like a bulldog, so they would be in there, too,” Golden said.

Cats and dogs that need special care would be housed together, but there is ample space to allow for both, he said.

The group coordinating the effort recently held a trial registration using stuffed toys in place of live animals. The shelter was opened and all the necessary equipment brought out.
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