Three years, 50 trailers, and hope and relief for pet owners when disaster strikes.
This is all the work of AKC Reunite's Pet Disaster Relief program, which donates trailers fully equipped with pet sheltering supplies to communities for their use in the case of an emergency or disaster.
The Somerset Country, NJ trailer, donated by the Morris & Essex Kennel Club, Sussex Hills Kennel Club, Northern New Jersey Great Dane Club, New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, Garden State Golden Retriever Club, Animerge PC and AKC Reunite, has been completed and delivered and marks the program's 50th trailer donated. The trailer will be on display at the M&E match show in early October.
"With the inspiration and vision from AKC Delegates, like Pat Laurans and Marilyn Currey, the leadership of AKC Reunite Chairman Alan Kalter and the implementation from Tom Sharp and Dallas Harsa, this has become a sensational program helping dogs and people nationwide," Dennis B. Sprung, President & CEO of the American Kennel Club said.
AKC Reunite's Pet Disaster Relief program started as an idea two weeks after the devastating tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma in May 2013. A small group of AKC Delegates invited AKC Reunite to discuss the possibility of a pet disaster relief program, modeled after the State of North Carolina’s Companion Animal Mobile Equipment Trailer (CAMET) program. With the devastation of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, many people stayed in harm's way because emergency response plans did not accommodate their pets. The trailers would help solve this problem by allowing a safe haven for people and pets to take shelter together, and AKC Reunite's response to the idea was overwhelming.
The program officially launched in September 2013 and has been making great strides and an incredible impact on communities ever since.
AKC Reunite works with local AKC clubs and emergency management organizations to fund and donate these trailers.
Each trailer is fully stocked with non-perishable supplies to house at least 65 pets immediately after a disaster is declared. The trailers contain items such as: crates, bowls, leashes, AKC Reunite microchips, scanners, cleaning supplies, and even a generator.
Additionally, every trailer is donated with a library of training resources detailing volunteer coordination, how to set up the contents, decontamination, and replenishment of supplies.
The trailer is donated to an emergency management organization, who is then responsible for deploying it in an emergency. In the event of a disaster, (or evacuation due to a pending disaster) these trailers can be deployed to a predetermined location and a temporary shelter can be set up. This way, members of the community don't have to risk themselves for their pets or lose their pets during a disaster. The trailers can be used outside of their county, region or state if the emergency officials in the affected area requests the assistance.
"[This program] really is special," Pat Laurans said. "It's grassroots. It's people to people and people to pets. It's just one example of what the American Kennel Club does for dogs in general and people who love dogs."
In just three short years, these trailers have been deployed all around the U.S. from Polk County, Florida to Seattle, Washington. And they have helped numerous people and their pets in recent disasters like the fires this summer in Arizona and San Diego.
And they're not stopping now. The Hatboro Dog Club and Kennel Club of Philadelphia have donated a trailer for Bucks County, PA. Ten to twelve more trailers are also in the works.
"50% of the people who would not leave their homes in Katrina, it was because they wouldn't leave their dogs. This is how important the bond between a person and their dog is. Everybody in the AKC family has reason to be proud of what they've done to help this come about and feel wonderfully amazed that in three years 50 trailers will be on the road" Laurans said.
To learn more about the AKC Reunite Pet Disaster Relief program, check out the video below.