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National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Reminds Animal Owners to ‘Save the Whole Family’

The inaugural National Severe Weather Preparedness Week,  co-sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is expected to become an annual event designed to increase public awareness of the need to plan for weather emergencies.

Underscoring this need to be prepared for weather events, NOAA is reporting a preliminary count of 385 tornadoes for the first three months of 2012. In comparison, there were 154 verified tornadoes for the same period last year. And hurricane season begins in June.

Veterinarians are increasingly serving an integral role in emergency and disaster response and management. As noted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, whether it’s a hurricane or tornado, a flood or earthquake, a chemical leak or an act of terrorism, veterinarians are vital to response and recovery efforts during and after disasters. Veterinarians also play an important role in promoting and aiding preparedness efforts, to limit the impact of disasters on both animals and people.

In support of this expanding role, NC State CVM was one of the first veterinary colleges to create a First Responder Program that requires all DVM students to complete the course and achieve state and federal disaster training certification before they graduate.

The CVM  is part of NC SART—the North Carolina State Animal Response Team–that was founded after Hurricane Floyd, a 1999 storm during which more than three million domestic and farm animals were lost.  The North Carolina initiative is now a national model.

Domestic animals can become victims of disasters and emergencies, of course, and owners need to include their animals in any disaster planning. Numerous federal, state, and private agencies and groups offer detailed tips for “saving the whole family.” The NC State CVM Animal Welfare, Ethics, and Public Policy Program offers owners a resource page for disaster planning.