Assistance Dogs and Preparedness for Emergencies

The possibility of Hurricane Sandy hitting our area has caused us to discuss emergency evacuations and over all safety.

Assistance Dogs are permitted to enter any shelter, but we still encourage our teams to be fully prepared by also knowing where pets are permitted if they need to evacuate and the local shelter does not understand the law regarding assistance dogs. If teams are denied access, they can call the National Red Cross 24 hour access number, 1-866-GET INFO.

A service dog is defined under the American’s With Disabilities Act as a guide dog, signal dog, or any other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Assistance Dogs represent a specific group, different from pets or other animals such as therapy dogs.

The Red Cross specifically allows an individual with a disability the use of an assistance dog in its disaster or evacuation shelters; or we will make special arrangements to accommodate the individual, together with the assistance dog, within the facility or in another appropriate facility. In all such circumstances, the care and supervision of the service animal is the responsibility of the individual, and not that of Red Cross.

We recommend that partners put no less than one week of dog food in their fully fueled vehicle ahead of time, and packing the following:

  • An extra collar with proper ID
  • An extra leash
  • Two dog bowls
  • Clean up supplies (poop bags, etc)
  • Copies of their dogs;
    • county license
    • veterinary records
    • assistance dog public access letter provided by PAD
  • A current photo of their dog
We encourage our teams to put all of these items into a “to go bag” which is then put somewhere that they can easily access if the emergency level changes without notice. Near this bag should also be their assistance dog’s public harness or vest.  If your dog has a harness with packs, we encourage you to pack a safe weight amount of your dogs necessities in their packs, saving space and helping you manage your things.
Even though assistance dogs are highly trained and taught to handle stress, emergency evacuations can be an extreme situation for them.  It can be beneficial to have a chew toy, power treats and even a clicker packed for these situations. 
We hope that everyone takes time to plan for an evacuation, especially so for those with disabilities and assistance dogs.  Stay safe and be prepared!

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