Past polls have indicated that pet owners are ill-prepared for emergencies; as well as county and municipal governments. A recent fire in Ocean County proved that there were many mistakes and many shortcomings in the event of a disaster. By federal law, N J is required to help evacuate pets during a natural disaster or risk losing federal money. Gov. Corzine signed into law a bill that requires the State Office of Emergency Management to adopt an operations plan with the Dept. of Agriculture to support the needs of animals and individuals with animals under their care in an emergency. These plans must be in place by Dec. 22, 2007.
Two staging areas were set up for pets - in the photos above, animals were set up in the shade at the Russell Brackman Middle School.
Staffers from the Society’s Forked River facilities worked around the clock and were largely instrumental in stabilizing the situation at the school shelter in Barnegat with countless trips to the fire zone to catch and rescue animals from vacated houses. According to Sandra Gray of H.E.L.P. (Help in Emergencies for Livestock and Pets) and C.A.R.T. (County Animal Response Team) “all the bookwork and drills don’t hold a candle to the real thing." Ms. Gray went on to say, (to AHS) "Thank you so much for all of your help with the pets during the fire evacuation. We would have had trouble pulling it off without your help."
Many pet owners who left for work in the morning were devastated to learn that they could not return home, and that is where the Society assisted. A dog named Sophie was rescued by a neighbor … who brought the dog to the shelter, but forgot to bring the dog’s insulin. That evening, our staff went to her home and retrieved her insulin, needles and the special food she required.
Boy Scouts did a great job at both locations, in comforting the animals and in setting up crates for the animals AHS brought in and walking them.
Above, animals were received at Southern Regional H.S. in Stafford Twp.
According to NJ SPCA Officer Thomas Yanisko, (the assistance in this disaster) ... could not have been achieved without John Bergmann and his staff from Popcorn Park Zoo. Popcorn Park is a tremendous resource to the NJ SPCA and not just for this emergency. There are countless other circumstances where the organization has come through with support, medical care, staff and expertise to support the NJ SPCA. I want to personally thank him for being there."