Friday, March 12, 2010

Here comes the spring...

It’s starting to feel like spring – rain instead of snow, melting white stuff and mud everywhere.  In Manitoba we start thinking about our annual spring arrival – flooding!  How prepared are you on your farm, in your home and in your family?  There are many guides, links and resources to help people prepare for flooding, evacuation and cleaning up as you return home.  But how many people have used them?  Feeling pretty confident that, as a Manitoban, you have flood planning under control and you are ready? Okay, one more question: what is your plan to care for your animals?

There are three basic options when you are faced with a flood situation: stay put, evacuate with animals or evacuate and have ‘care-in-place’ for your animals.  Let’s talk a bit about each, with a focus on animals.
Stay Put: when you are behind a dyke or in an area where it is safe for you to stay in your home or on your farm there are things you should do in preparation for that stay, especially if you could be isolated there for a time during the height of the flood. 
  • ·         Ensure you have enough food and fresh water for your animals
  • ·         Make sure you have medications/prescriptions filled for any animals who are on medications
  • ·         Have a first aid kit for animals handy
  • ·         Make sure you have an evacuation kit for each animal in case you do have to evacuate (detailed below)
  • ·         Have a container for collecting poop from your animals (if you have animals in a confined area or yard) to keep their outdoors area clean for you and them
  • ·         Have a list of your animals, with their names, chip or tag numbers, ages and a photo of each attached with contact numbers should you and your animals become separated at some point during the flood

Evacuate with Animals:  there will be times you have to leave with your animals, and there are some special steps to take to ensure a smooth evacuation.
  • ·         If you animals have special food (critical for sensitive animals such as those having treatment, or specialty breeds)
  • ·         Be sure each animal has their own crate with name and contact number on it
  • ·         Be sure each animal has a collar, tags, leash or other way of identification on them when possible
  • ·         Take your list of animals with you when you leave
  • ·         If you have an ‘Animals In Home’ sign in your window, take it down so rescuers know there are no animals inside
  • ·         Double check that the evacuation centre you are going to will let you bring your animals, if it does not contact the Provincial Welfare Vet or a local rescue to find where your animals can go during the evacuation
  • ·         Leave early! If you are in an area that is under evacuation notice, move your animals out early so they can be safely cared for with less stress
  • ·         Ask for help! If you cannot transport the animals you have, ask for help and ask early!

Care-In-Place: there will be times that individuals and communities leave their animals behind to have ‘care-in-place’ provided for them.  This situation relies on volunteers to check on animals left behind after the people are evacuated.  Make their job easier using some of these steps:
  • ·         Put up your “Animal In House” sign so they know it is a house with animals (these are a free download here and here)
  • ·         Leave a list of animals, names and any special needs they may have
  • ·         Ensure that they have adequate food
  • ·         Do not leave any animals behind that are: pregnant, with very small newborns, having recently had surgery or otherwise need constant care as this is not the job of care-in–place volunteers. Make arrangements for them in advance and evacuate them early.
  • ·         Animals which are dangerous, aggressive or threaten caregivers may be removed by animal control for everyone’s safety, be sure to notify caregivers if any animals have issues that can be dealt with before an issue arises

If you feel any animals are in danger, have been left behind without care or have other welfare concerns or questions about flood preparations please call the Provincial Welfare Vet at 945-8000, Animal CARE Line.  If you are outside of Manitoba, call your local ALERT or CARE line for assistance.  Link up with your Rescue groups on Facebook, in Manitoba we have the Manitoba Emergency Response For Animals (MERA) which is looking for volunteers but also will be helping with animals during the flood.

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