UPDATE (6/22/11): In Arizona, animal rescues and shelters are overwhelmed with displaced pets due to the recent wildfires. Read more…
UPDATE (6/17/11): Nearly a month after the May 22 tornado that devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri, about 900 pets remain homeless at the Joplin Humane Society. Read more…
This spring has brought an unprecedented number of natural disasters to the U.S., particularly to the Midwest and South. As a result, animal shelters and rescue groups throughout the country are strained as they work to help animals who have been stranded, injured, or separated from their families.
The following video tells the story of a dog injured in a recent tornado who crawled home on two broken legs:
Groups such as the ASPCA, the Humane Association of the United States and the American Humane Association are responding to help local shelters and rescue groups in affected areas. Such groups will welcome your donations… though any group that works to support animals can use your support at this time, as resources across the board become depleted. Ways you can help include:
- Donating cash instead of material items. Many shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with items they cannot use, yet need cash to purchase the supplies and services they need. If you wish to donate items, check with the rescue/shelter to see exactly what items they can use. Gift cards to discount stores (Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart), grocery stores, gas stations, office supply stores and pet supply stores are always welcome.
- Volunteer. All animal organizations can use volunteer help, so ask how you can do the most good with your services. Even if you are nowhere near a disaster area, helping your local shelter or rescue group will contribute to the common goal of rescuing animals as demand for services increases. Shelters and rescue groups are always in need of volunteers to help care for animals in shelters and adoption centers, provide foster homes for animals, provide transportation and participate in fundraising events.
- Beware of scams. Sadly, there are always those willing to take advantage of people’s kindness and compassion during times like these, collecting money in the name of disaster relief when in fact merely attempting to enrich themselves. Donate only to organizations that you know and trust, and use trusted avenues (official websites and mailing addresses) to send your money. Any organization you donate money to should be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit as designated by the IRS.
- For your own family, create a family disaster plan, and consider how you would help your pet(s) in the event of a disaster in your area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a policy of supporting the admission of pets to emergency shelters, so plan on taking your pet(s) in the event you are evacuated. Also, consider microchipping your pet(s) in case they are ever separated from you. For more information, see the Community Pet Preparedness Toolkit at Ready.gov.