The British Columbia Animal Food Bank is inviting the provincial government to sit down with them and come up with a plan that includes pets’ needs when natural disasters strike.
Nicole Fry, founder of the Animal Food Bank, has created a petition to “include pets in official natural disaster response plans.”
The petition, which was created two weeks ago, had 1,400 signatures as of Monday, close to their goal of 1,500.
“The petition was initiated to raise awareness of the need for a formal action plan to integrate pet care and welfare into natural disaster response centers, so ESS centers,” says Fry.
Without organizations like the Animal Food Bank, she says, there will be no official support when people check into these centers with their pets or if they leave their pets behind.
The catastrophic wildfire season in the Thompson-Okanagan region and unexpected floods on the lower mainland have amplified the need for a plan that specifically identifies the needs of pets.
“There is no requirement for ESS to provide pet food, so providing pet support is not mandated by the government,” Fry says.
She noted that the hotel vouchers offered at ESS centers do not cover pet fees, which she says has been a problem in the summer.
“(Posts) may or may not have pet food, they may or may not have bins, they may or may not have leashes, and all of those things are critical,” Fry says.
The Animal Food Bank has encountered many cases of ESS centers not having adequate supplies during the fire season and over the course of flood evacuations.
“I really want to be able to sit down with the county government and the organizations we partner with to make sure, during natural disasters, we know how we can make sure the pets are not forgotten,” Fry says.
“You see people having to evacuate with a moment’s notice and the lucky ones getting their pets with them, the unfortunate leaving their pets behind.”
She has been credited with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in Merritt, Kunst. David Feller, who was taken by the animals left by the floods.
“We send him food and water so he can do that,” Fry says.
The floods had a major impact on the animal food bank this year, due to their supply being cut off to the lower mainland, after major highways in British Columbia were closed.
“The problem with the evacuations from Merritt is that they all came to a center we support,” Frey says.
“Once the ESS is closed, the need for help from these people and their pets will not go away, they have lost their homes and jobs and we have been in them for so long, trying to make sure they still get that support.”
Pet Food Bank accepts donations in the form of gift cards and pet supplies that can be delivered at any Pet Planet location.