Sunday, November 18, 2012

Disaster Response - HSUS & Kent County SPCA

I just wanted to share a recent account regarding Hurricane Sandy animal rescue efforts after the storm in New Jersey.  The effort was led by HSUS, and a Delaware shelter Kent County SPCA was one of the shelters from around the country that provided assistance.

Hurricane Sandy Rescue Efforts - After the Storm

The Team of Officers from Kent County SPCA and Hettie Brown from HSUS helping recover animals in Seaside Heights NJ.

Here is the account from one of the officers regarding the work they performed while they were in New Jersey, that was posted on the KCSPCA FB page.

Have to share this (long) recounting of our Animal Control Officers assisting with animal rescue in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. This is why we are here - so proud of our team! - Kent County SPCA Facebook
On Monday November 4th at 0730hrs Sgt. Hulse, M/Cpl Lewis, Pfc. Jarboe and myself loaded up our gear and left for NJ to assist the HSUS in search and rescue efforts for animals that were left behind due to hurricane Sandy. We all met at the North Substation in Middletown. We loaded the ¾ ton, ACV 2 and the Rescue van with one of our rescue trailers full of gear and supplies not knowing what we were headed into. All we knew at the time was that we were going to a town called Barngat to meet at a shelter facility that was being set up. 
We arrived at the shelter in Barnagat at around 1030. At that time there were no animals at the facility as of yet and there were only a few crates that were at the location. We unloaded our trailer and set up the facility. Once that was done we headed to Seaside Heights. 
As we were crossing the bridge into Seaside Heights the damage was very evident, trees blown over houses knocked loose from their foundations and boats and jet ski’s scattered about obviously in places that they were not supposed to be. On the way through the check points the police officers that were there all thanked us and wished us luck with the amount of work that needed to be done when we got there. 
 We arrived and checked in at the command center at around 1500hrs. This is where we met with Officers from the NJSPCA, Toms River Animal Control, and the HSUS. The curfew was at 1800hrs and operations were winding down for the day. 
On Tuesday morning we arrived to the command center at 0730hrs and were ready to go in the field. We were all split up with officers from different agencies and we were given a list of address to go to. Each team consisted of 2-3 people and had a list of around 10-20 address to go to. The calls were mainly from people that had left an animal behind when they evacuated. It appeared that most people had taken their dogs with them but not their cats. It seemed that they had figured that they would only be gone for a few days and then when reality set in they needed someone to help rescue their animals. 
We would arrive to a home try and see if there was anything in the windows or if there was an open door or window to make entry to the home. If there wasn’t we would have to find a way in. once we were in the home we had to search through the mess that this storm had created. We would find cats in drawers under beds and just about anywhere you can think of. Some homes had snakes or pocket pets like hamsters or ferrets and birds even fish were removed.
When we were done for the day we followed the HSUS transport van back to the Barnagat shelter to unload all the animals that were picked up in the field. This day we unloaded and assisted the HSUS in checking in and setting up housing for over 100 animals. We got done around 2200hrs that night.

On Wednesday we were again split up in to teams M/Cpl Lewis and I went to Union Beach to assist with efforts there. Sgt. Hulse and Pfc Jarboe went back to the Barnagat Shelter to unload a 50 foot trailer full of supplies from Petsmart Charities.
The weather was changing and a Nor’Easter was headed for the area. Operations were shutdown around 1300hrs and everyone had to be off the islands. That night anywhere between 8 and 12 inches of snow fell. The snow was heavy and wet and whatever trees that had been damaged from the winds of Sandy ended up falling and people that had either just gotten power back or had not lost it before were all without power now. 
Thursday morning we were up early and back in the field by 0800hrs. New calls had come in the night before and others that were left over when operations were shutdown. We broke up into teams and started the response for the day. That day we rescued around 40-50 animals. The snow and the cold was not helping with the response efforts at all. It was cold and windy and made things move a little slow.

That evening we cleared the island around 1800hrs and went and unloaded the animals. After that we responded to a shelter that housed both animals and people but it was being closed down. Both the people and animals had to be moved. That night we moved around 15 dogs 2 cats, a hamster and 2 birds. All were transported back to the shelter in Barnagat and checked in for care. A highlight of the transfer of these animals was a Parrot named Poppi. He is a very nervous bird that would be calm when he had his stuffed animal parrot in a cage next to him. We all got a bit of a laugh when we brought Poppi and his friend into the shelter! We finished the day around 2200hrs.
On Friday morning we were again back in the field to answer calls for help. We arrived at command around 1030hrs due to having a bit of confusion on how to get to the location from where we were staying. None of us were familiar with the area and the way were headed the road was totally impassable. The National Guard was going to try and send us through but there was no way to get through. So we had to turn around and head back in the other direction. 
Once we were in the field there were not a lot of calls that had come through. Lewis and I were in a different area Ortly Beach, Normandy Beach and Brick. These areas were totally devastated by the storm. Houses were just demolished and had been filled with water. When we would make entry to a home you could see that the water had filled it up picking everything up off the ground and then when it receded everything just was dumped on the floor. Hulse and Jarboe were still in Seaside Heights finishing the last of the calls that were on the books. We cleared all the remaining calls by 1700hrs. We went back to the shelter in Barnagat we learned that this week alone there were around 250 animals that were in care at the shelter and another 80 or more had already been reunited with their owners. This was our last day in the field and at the shelter so we said our goodbyes, scratched a few ears and rubbed a few chins and just to admired all the work that was being done on behalf of the animals and their owners in this time of need. 
There was not a person that we came across that was not appreciative to have us there. We were thanked by every person that we came across. When these things happen it is amazing to see not only see how people come together to help but how communities come together to help one another. Its not easy work but when it comes to the lives of those that were helped it is more than worth it, seeing the smile on the owners face when they see their pet that they thought they may never see again and the animals that you help when they are in your arms a calm comes across them because they know that you are there to help. 
Major Brian Whipple
Chief Animal Control Officer
Delaware Animal Care and Control
Here is a comment to that post by the HSUS.
The Humane Society of the United States - DelawareThe HSUS is extremely appreciative of the Kent County SPCA officers who took time away from their families to assist in our search and rescue work in New Jersey. Major Whipple and his officers were professional and committed - working as though it was their own community affected. They were great partners in our efforts to save animals and reunite families. THANK YOU!
As I've mentioned previously, the Kent County SPCA and Delaware SPCA were also involved in manning the local emergency shelters.  That effort provided local pet owners with a place to bring their animals to ensure the safety of both the pet owner's and their four legged family members during the storm.

No-Kill Delaware - Where were they?

Note that the KCSPCA officers left to assist the rescue effort on November 4.  Below is a screenshot that shows what No-Kill Delaware was doing on that same date.  They were promoting a book by Nathan Winograd that speaks against the HSUS, ASPCA, PETA, and shelters like the Kent County SPCA.  The very organizations assisting pet owners on the east coast after the storm.

Nathan Winograd - Where Was He?

Where was Mr. Winograd on that same day of November 4th, while the HSUS and Kent County SPCA was rescuing animals in New Jersey?  He was also online, just like No-Kill Delaware, promoting his new book Friendly Fire.  It's nothing less than shameful that our state of Delaware has enacted a law based on the writings of this man who attacks organizations that assist communities in their time of need.

Mr. Winograd claims that organizations like HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA have fought the no-kill legislation in other states.  Seeing the harm that it has done here, I certainly hope that is true, but I'm more inclined to believe that the many failures of the No-Kill movement has done more to hamper their legislative efforts than any of those organizations have.  I only wish that those organizations would work to save our state from the cruel consequences of this horrible legislation.  

But if nothing else, this information from November 4 shows who was on the ground saving animals where disaster had struck (HSUS, Kent County SPCA), and more importantly who was promoting a book instead of assisting those communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. 

Delaware Animal Welfare Task Force

As the state Animal Welfare Task Force looks at changes that need to be made to our laws, I hope they consider who is on the front lines when disasters occur.  Next time it may be our state that needs a shelter like the Kent County SPCA to lead that effort here.  They won't be able to do that if their resources continue to be strained by the manpower costs of pulling documentation every other day for one investigation after another that is the equivalent of  "the bridge to nowhere", and that has been the result of CAPA.  

The task force will also have to consider that if they choose to keep CAPA on the books, they will force a shelter to consider the cost of taking in injured animals that may strain their financial resources if they are forced to treat severely injured animals with little hope of survival during a rescue effort, just because CAPA says they can't euthanize the animal unless there is "undue suffering".  We've already seen the cats suffer as a consequence of the shelter being forced to make the decision to limit intake for cats as a result of CAPA.  

As much as I love my dog, if he was injured severely as a result of flying debris, and a rescuer needs to make the choice between leaving him behind because the choice to take him back to the shelter immediately might hamper their efforts to save a number of less injured dogs, then I want them to be able to make the choice to euthanize him.  I want our shelters to be able to make the decision that is best in that situation, without having to wonder whether no-kill activists will want every record from their effort pulled because of their choice to euthanize a severely injured animal so they could continue to help other animals who might have a better outcome.  We all saw No-Kill Delaware and their followers harp about the distemper cats last year, and question whether those cats were suffering.  So I have no doubt that a rescue effort during a disaster in our state would result in the same questioning.  Short of assigning a video man to every shelter worker, there will never be a way to establish the level of "suffering" of an animal.  Insurance companies and state assistance programs make similar decisions regarding extreme medical measures every day with human lives, so it's crazy that our state places a higher value on animal lives with a ridiculous law called CAPA.  

I applaud the HSUS and the Kent County SPCA in their effort to help animals in New Jersey, and I pray that Delaware is never faced with the devastation that Hurricane Sandy caused in other states. But if we're ever faced with a disaster of a similar magnitude in Delaware, I just hope that CAPA is no longer around to hamper the triage required in disaster response.