If You Live In the Evacuation Area
- If you do not evacuate, look for animals that have been left behind and are in need of food and fresh drinking water. Provide what you can. If possible, safely confine them until their owner can be found.
- Free any animals that are confined and at risk of being injured or killed if they are not freed. Do this only as long as you are not putting your own life in serious danger.
- If you are aware of animals that you cannot help, be sure to notify animal rescue personnel, provide a description of the animal and where you last saw it. This information can be very helpful in locating missing animals.
If You Live Nearby An Area Just Hit By Disaster
- If you have room to safely foster an animal that belongs to someone who must evacuate, contact your local animal welfare organization to let them know how you can help. Also listen to news reports and look in the newspaper for efforts to organize foster care for animals.
- Purchase food and/or supplies for animals and drop them off at evacuee distribution locations. Listen to news reports to see if there are specific food items or supplies especially needed for animals. Remember all kinds of animals can be affected, so consider donating items other than dog and cat food.
- Be on the lookout for animals that may have wandered out of the evacuation area on their own and now are lost and confused. Try to safely catch and transport them to a local animal shelter or temporary evacuation shelter that has been set up for evacuated animals. Please do this only if it is safe for you and the animal. If you are unable to capture the animal, then provide a description of the animal and where you last saw it to the local animal organization coordinating rescues.
If you Live Further Away
There are many people all over the world who deeply care about animals and want to do something to help them – especially during a major natural disaster.
The Best Ways to Help:
- Volunteer: First determine if there is an organization coordinating volunteers for animal rescue in the area and whether it needs more help. If you are not needed when you initially call, ask to be put on a waiting list. Often during disasters, there is a huge outpouring of help in the initial days and weeks. The longer the recovery period lasts, the fewer the number of volunteers that are available to help. You may be of even greater assistance after the initial rush of volunteers is over. Also read this note of caution.
- Foster: Provide foster care for owned animals that may have been temporarily relocated to your community. Notify your local animal shelter if you are willing to help in this way. Shelters receive an increased number of shelter requests as evacuees begin to realize that they will not be able to return home any time soon. It is often difficult to keep an animal in a hotel room or in other crowded quarters over an extended period of time. Also read this note of caution.
- Contribute Supplies: Speak with someone with an animal rescue group working in the affected area regarding information related to current needs for food and supplies. Once you know what they need, begin collecting items to contribute. You can do this by yourself or you may want to include family, friends, neighbors, school children, church members or your local animal shelter. Be sure also to coordinate a way to transport these supplies to the affected area. Also read this note of caution.
- Donate: SPCA International gives grants to organizations that our experts know are providing disaster relief on the ground. We carefully choose the organizations that need the most help during these disasters. If you donate to SPCA International, you will support these grants; however, you also may wish to contribute directly to an organization at work in a disaster zone.
CAUTION! Don’t Make These Mistakes:
- Don’t drive or fly to the area without knowing that an animal rescue group needs your help. Too many volunteers can actually be more of a hindrance than a help to organizations working in disaster zones.
- Don’t spend time coordinating and collecting animal food or supplies until you know exactly what is needed. Most of the time, the best way to do this is by speaking with someone from an organization at the disaster site with knowledge of the local needs. Sending the wrong items can take up valuable storage space. No one wants to see these supplies go to waste.
- Don’t travel to the disaster area and begin rescuing animals on your own. All rescue efforts must be coordinated through the animal agency or agencies that have been assigned to this task. Rescuing animals and taking them out of the area on your own greatly reduces the chances that those animals will ever be reunited with their family.