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The Peninsula humane Society & SPCA has a comprehensive plan to help animals and animal owners in the event of a local disaster or emergency.  Five points are stressed throughout our written plan:

  1. In order to receive reimbursement from the federal government, our local government - and not PHS/SPCA, a private, non-profit - is responsible for making plans that account for animals during a disaster.
  2. PHS/SPCA has chosen to assist local government by making plans to help animals and animal owners.
  3. PHS/SPCA will not have resources to care for all animals in our county during a wide-scale disaster or emergency.  Still PHS/SPCA will have a vital role.
  4. PHS/SPCA is not a first responder as are Police, Fire, Public Works and human medical emergency personnel; initiation of PHS/SPCA resources will be directed by our County's Office of Emergency Services (OES).
  5. Pet owners should never assume that some else - local government or PHS/SPCA - will be able to care for their pets in the event of a wide-scale disaster or emergency.  Pet owners need to have their own plan, which s a pet-friendly place to stay if they are displaced from their home.

PHS/SPCA has had experience responding to small scale emergencies.  In one case, PHS/SPCA (and other SF Bay Area shelters) were given less than 24 hours notice that a number of animals displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were coming to SFO.  With help from volunteers, PHS/SPCA turned their back parking lot into a mini shelter and housed 60+ animals for a few months.  More recently, PHS/SPCA was on scene minutes after the San Bruno gas explosion and provided the following:

  • Trained volunteers remained on scene for days helping pet owners with general information.
  • Free housing at its Coyote Point shelter for displaced pets.
  • Free supplies to pet owners.
  • Animal Control Officers checked on pets left behind in homes and yards.

PHS/SPCA would provide this same level of assistance in any local, small-scale disaster impacting a few blocks, one neighborhood or one small community within our county.

PHS/SPCA Response to Large Scale Disaster or Emergencies has not yet been called to action, but is prepared to have a role.  PHS/SPCA has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Red Cross, explaining how the two organizations will work together.  In addition, PHS/SPCA has recruited a number of volunteers with specific backgrounds (animal handling, construction, CPR, pet first aid, CERT) and works with these volunteers periodically.

Although PHS/SPCA does not have the resources to help all pet owners in a large-scale disaster, we do have the ability to establish a temporary field shelter in our community.  Initial supplies on hand will allow us to provide assistance for 100-150 animals for five days, until additional resources can be gathered.  Pets are typically not allowed at shelters for humans.  PHS/SPCA has contacts with many local for-profit veterinarians, boarding kennels and pet-friendly hotels that may be able to assist by providing staffing, supplies or accommodations for pets in the event of a disaster.

Many types of incidents can trigger the need to implement disaster response plans, from local emergencies to regional disasters.  PHS/SPCA has requested that our County OES make us aware of relevant high-alert situations.

PHS/SPCA encourages pet owners to create their own personal disaster plans,  which include provisions for their pets.  Increased readiness among individual pet owners is the single most important measure in decreasing the number of pets impacted by a disaster. 

For more information about PHS/SPCA, contact disaster@PHS-SPCA.org

If you work for an animal-related business and are unsure whether your group has offered support (and to what extent) please contact Katie Dinneen.

For more information on preparing your pet for a disaster, see Pet Disaster Plan.  Be sure you maintain important information about your pet -- see Animal Information Form.