June Chairman's Report
None of us will ever forget the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year and the tireless efforts of the fancy to give generously of their time, money (more than $1 million was donated to the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Canine Support and Relief Fund) and resources to aid those animals in need. If we learned any lessons during this difficult time in our nation’s history, it is that the bond between canines and their owners is unparalleled and that dogs are even more resilient than we could have imagined.
June 1 is the official start of hurricane season. AKC® is taking a proactive approach by working closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help educate pet owners on disaster preparedness and to encourage owners to put animal emergency plans in place.
AKC has teamed up with DHS to create a tri-fold brochure titled, “Ready Pets” to educate owners on disaster preparedness. Unveiled last month by DHS Under Secretary for Preparedness George W. Foresman, the brochure highlights the key steps pet owners should take to prepare themselves and their animals. A printable version is available on our website as part of our new disaster preparedness page at www.akc.org.
AKC faced many challenges in getting aid and supplies to the Gulf Region in September of 2005. To address these concerns, AKC Board Member Dr. Patricia Haines, Houston Kennel Club Delegate Carol Williamson, Canine Health Foundation Board Member Susan Hamil, AKC/CAR Assistant Vice President Jason Miller and AKC’s Manager of Special Projects Ariela Schulman recently attended the AVMA National Animal Disaster Summit in Arlington, VA. AKC representatives were among the 150 attendees representing animal welfare organizations and government agencies who came together to discuss problems that arose in 2005 and solutions for the future.
AKC and AKC CAR have created a new position to coordinate both organizations’ efforts in future disaster relief initiatives. To fill this important role we have hired Marcy Zingler, a longtime fancier who has significant background working with clubs, including exposure as a breeder, delegate and judge. Marcy starts at AKC’s offices on June 19.
Recently, AKC announced its support for the recently introduced Senate Bill 2548, the “Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006,” known as “PETS.” PETS requires provisions for rescue, care, shelter and essential needs of pets and service animals and their families in emergency and disaster relief, and requires that such provisions be included in federal, state and local emergency and disaster preparedness plans.
Perhaps some of you responded to a recent AKC online survey to gauge how prepared dog owners are to safely evacuate their pets in the event of an emergency. If forced to evacuate their homes to a location where they could not bring their pets, 62% of those polled said they would defy the authorities and stay with their animals, even in catastrophic emergency conditions. While it’s no surprise that those polled love and care greatly for their pets, enough to risk their own lives for them, it’s troubling that three quarters do not have a portable pet disaster kit assembled in the case of an immediate evacuation. I encourage all fanciers to always heed the advice of authorities and, regardless of geographical location, to have an emergency evacuation plan in place for your dogs and to assemble a portable pet disaster kit. The best thing we can do for our dogs is to plan well ahead for all types of emergencies and encourage others to do the same.
Though no one can truly predict the future, I am most confident that, should disaster befall us again, AKC, AKC/CAR, and dog clubs around the country will be there once again to donate their time, money and resources to assist our beloved canines.
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