When waters rise, who will save Fluffy?

When it comes to ordering an evacuation in a disaster, officials agree at least one difficulty alway

When it comes to ordering an evacuation in a disaster, officials agree at least one difficulty always presents itself: Some people refuse to leave their homes because they won’t leave their pets.

Officials in Montgomery and Schoharie counties are considering grant applications available through the state’s Homeland Security Office to help governments get pets out.

Through the Companion Animal Sheltering Equipment grant program, or CASE, the state is aiming to develop a stock of equipment capable of housing pets, according to the state Homeland Security office. Counties are urged to join with others in applications for grants of up to $50,000 for shared equipment.

Emergency management officials in Montgomery and Schoharie counties are considering a joint application that could include other nearby counties, Schoharie County Emergency Management Director Judith Warner said. Warner said officials have been developing community animal response teams for a couple years now but limited funding makes it difficult to gather supplies.

Warner said the issue has not necessarily presented itself during prior evacuations in the county, but officials have learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina.

“There are these situations where people don’t want to leave. We’re limited on money, obviously, and Homeland Security has seen that as a need,” Warner said.

According to the state’s request for applications, a pot of $250,000 statewide will support the purchase of animal supplies for animal shelter equipment trailers. Suggested equipment includes cat and dog carriers, dog crates, ID bands, animal first aid kits, litter pans, animal control poles and other gear for dogs and cats.

Equipment for horses, such as halters and ropes, leads and corral kits are also suggested.

State public health law prohibits animals except for “service animals” like seeing-eye dogs from being brought into emergency shelters, so the establishment of mobile shelters is seen as the next best alternative.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee will explore the grant opportunity during a meeting next week, committee chairman John Thayer said.

Thayer said issues such as any cost to the county and the frequency with which such gear might be used are among questions he expects to be discussed.

“I don’t think it’s a terrible idea, the question is cost. And we have to be realistic and see how anything like that would be utilized,” Thayer said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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