When Kellie Borgman, president and co-owner of Friends for Paws, took supplies to southern Indiana after major tornadoes and flooding a few years ago, she didn’t see any animals for the first three or four days.
“Sometimes, it takes some time for them to come out of hiding,” she said. “We kind of see the destruction and what the dogs and cats and people go through, and we … know it’s terrifying.”
It wasn’t long before Borgman came to understand the scope of the problem for stray and abandoned animals following a catastrophe. She wondered how her own community of Pendleton would fare in such an event.
Madison County is now prepared to help pets when a natural disaster strikes. It’s the first county in the state and one of just 31 in the country with an AKC Pet Disaster Relief trailer.
“This relieves a lot of stress,” Borgman said.
Tom Ecker, executive director of Madison County Emergency Management Agency, said arranging for the trailer has been nearly a decade-long process since officials witnessed the chaos of lost and abandoned animals after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Ecker said the trailer – equipped with dozens of cages, pet food, cleaning supplies and first-aid supplies – can be taken anywhere in the county within 48 hours. The trailer could be used as a shelter once it is taken to a distressed area.
But it’s not only for use in Madison County, Ecker said.
“At the time we accepted the trailer, we had to accept that we would take it to other counties,” he said.
Made possible through more than $22,000 in donations from local and national pet organizations – including the Anderson and Muncie kennel clubs, the Anderson Obedience Training Club and several breed clubs – the trailer can help as many as 65 animals at a time.
“Safe, effective sheltering solutions in times of disaster are incredibly important, and AKC Reunite is pleased to help communities across the nation prepare by mobilizing AKC Pet Disaster relief,” AKC Reunite CEO Tom Sharp said.
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