By Beth Gammie, RedRover Director of Field Services
This past storm and wildfire season in 2017 was a very busy time for the RedRover Responders! In July we responded to the Wall Fire in Oroville, CA, and then from August through September we responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in quick succession.
RedRover is an organization dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond. In natural disaster responses, we protect that bond by keeping families together through emergency animal sheltering.
When residents fled the Wall Fire in Northern California last July, we partnered with the North Valley Animal Disaster Group to provide daily care for their pets. We gave the animals the comfort and care they needed in a temporary shelter. Also, by taking care of their animals, we provided peace of mind to the people who love them. One family who lost their home in the Wall Fire found refuge for their three dogs as they began picking up the pieces and were so grateful for the ongoing support. They told us:
“We were so grateful our dogs were in good hands…The help that we have received from everybody that has been connected to this is immeasurable.”
In Texas, we cared for the pets of people who fled the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. We partnered with the SPCA of Texas to care for pets in a temporary animal shelter near the “mega shelter” for human evacuees. I talked with one woman who visited her small dog every day. She showed me how she lifted him up above her shoulders as she and her family escaped the rising water. I saw the relief in her eyes as she told me she did not know what she would have done if they couldn’t have brought their dog with them. All of their material goods were lost, but their family was intact.
Because of the work RedRover has done for the past three decades to educate people about pet safety in disasters, people now realize that if conditions are not safe for them, their pets aren’t safe either—and they evacuate the entire family, pets included. By providing emergency sheltering, people fleeing natural disasters know there will be a place for their pets, so they are more likely to evacuate with them.
We’ve long been a part of keeping the entire family together in natural disasters, and this past year showed that to be true more than ever.
To learn how to become a RedRover Responders volunteer, visit RedRover.org/Responders.
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