Humane community comes to aid of companion animals

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Sept. 21—Companion animals trapped in evacuated buildings near the scene of the tragedy in New York City have not been forgotten, nor have pets orphaned when their owners were killed on the hijacked planes or the buildings they struck.

National humane organizations immediately came through with offers of assistance to local authorities. The AVMA has been in close communication with the humane community.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been collaborating with the New York Center for Animal Care and Control (NYCACC), the lead agency charged with rescuing animals in lower Manhattan.

The ASPCA, whose national headquarters is on the east side of Manhattan, had set up a command center at Pier 40, including a mobile veterinary unit. On Sept. 17 these were moved to ASPCA headquarters. Humane law enforcement agents for the ASPCA were continuing to assist in rescue efforts, and its veterinary staff were treating animals at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

As of Sept. 20, spokesperson Ruth First told JAVMA, the ASPCA had rescued about 150 pets and treated more than 300. These cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, ferrets, birds, and reptiles were rescued from evacuated homes. The animals were treated primarily for shock, dehydration, and respiratory distress.

"Most people evacuated from buildings who owned pets are being allowed back to get them," First said. "We're calling out to friends and neighbors of people who may have perished to report pets whose owners are missing." Several hundred pets have been reunited with their distraught owners, and the ASPCA has been distributing to them some of the 30,000 tons of donated pet food and supplies. The society set up a hotline for owners of pets stranded in evacuated areas and compiled a database on the location of rescued pets. In addition, the ASPCA was implanting 300 microchips donated by Schering-Plough into unclaimed animals for future identification.

At The Humane Society of the United States, Anne Culver, director of disaster services, said the HSUS has been channeling financial contributions to the NYCACC and working on donations management issues.

Eric Miller breathes easier knowing that his cat, Hamilton,
is safe. Miller had been evacuated from his apartment, only
blocks from the the World Trade Center. They were reunited
with the help of the ASPCA Sept. 14.

With the overabundance of food and other supplies, the HSUS is discouraging further in-kind donations. Nor does the HSUS want monetary donations for this relief effort sent directly to them. Instead, the society suggests donations to local agencies or the NYCACC at 2336 Linden Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11208, a temporary location the HSUS helped the displaced agency procure. The NYCACC is a not-for-profit group on contract with the city.

"We have been working with the NYCACC and [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to help them manage donations, primarily of dog food. Last night [Sept. 19] we helped them bring the donations to a storage facility for controlled distribution," Culver said.

Individuals wishing to donate toward the search-and-rescue dogs can send their contribution to a dog team, Culver noted, by looking at the list of regional teams at the National Association for Search and Rescue's Web site, NASAR itself does not accept donations.

The NYCACC and ASPCA do not need more volunteers for the New York disaster. "If people are interested, we can put their names on a list for the National Animal Disaster Response Team—DART—to train for future disasters," Culver said.

"When people or shelters call and ask what they can do, we tell them: prepare your own disaster plan. Make sure your shelter or household knows what to do if a disaster occurs, and what to do if you're not home at the time. We also need to promote the idea of neighbors."

After the terrorist attacks, when many airplanes loaded with passengers and cargo were grounded, the HSUS contacted airlines and couriers such as Federal Express and UPS to discuss their protocol for live animals in cargo compartments.

According to Culver, they found that the airlines have contingency plans such as the ones for snow emergencies. Most plans involve offloading the animals and transporting them to facilities such as veterinary clinics and zoos that have agreements with the airlines. The HSUS was pleased that the airlines have plans and follow them. The couriers they contacted also have provisions for the live animals they transport.

The American Humane Association sent its Animal Planet Rescue truck to New York, Sept. 13, and put its emergency relief team on standby. The 82-foot semitrailer's resources include an ambulance, a mobile veterinary clinic, three boats, and an office that can serve as a command center. The AHA crew supported the efforts of the New York Center for Animal Care and Control and the ASPCA.

The AHA worked with FEMA and Veterinary Medical Assistance Team 1 to supply additional harnesses for the search-and-rescue dogs and their human counterparts, and to train the NYPD and FEMA on using harnesses to drop the dogs and rescuers into certain locations. PetSmart chapters donated kennels through the AHA for the canine units. The APR truck left New York on Sept. 17 but was kept on standby. Throughout the country the AHA has animal rescuers ready to assist.

United Animal Nations, an animal advocacy and rescue group, has created a relief program for the companion animals of the Sept. 11 terrorist victims. AnimalAid will provide relief for animals orphaned or otherwise affected by the tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

AnimalAid can provide foster care or adoption placement, transportation, and financial assistance (up to $500 per applicant) for animals that were injured or otherwise affected, animals whose caregivers were killed or injured, and search-and-rescue animals. The aid can be used for needs such as veterinary care, boarding arrangements, medication, and food. Assistance will be available through March 11, 2002.

Donations to AnimalAid can be made by calling the UAN disaster line, (800) 440-3277; online at; or by writing United Animal Nations, P.O. Box 188890, Sacramento, CA 95818; infoatuan [dot] org (info[at]uan[dot]org).

Terri Crisp, director of the Emergency Animal Rescue Service for United Animal Nations, has been on-site in New York. "Our experience in working with both human and animal disaster victims," Crisp said, "has shown us that the needs of companion animals are not always apparent in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy but materialize as families try to cope with these unfathomable circumstances."