Pet Preparedness: Free Public Events

Because of a $15,361.90 FEMA grant that was awarded to our local MRC unit, we were pleased to offer the public and our members a choice of four FREE education sessions about pet preparedness. The bottom of this page provides details about these events.

A two-minute PSA (see VIDEOS section on the web page shown) aired on cable TV stations across the region, promoting the last two events. After March 20, the PSA was updated with additional tips for creating pet go-kits. The updated PSA is available for cable stations across MA to run throughout 2013 and beyond.

These sessions advised the region's pet owners regarding measures they can take to care for their animals in emergencies. Pre-registration was encouraged though not mandatory.

Each event was followed by a training session for MRC members who were interested in volunteering at a pet-friendly emergency shelter in case of disaster.

Frightened animal retrieved in emergency
Crates set up in an animal shelter to house pets after Hurricane Katrina
Pets unable to care for themselves in disaster
Dog escaping flooded neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Handouts and posters were distributed widely at locations across the region. Our flyer was mailed to over 12,000 pet owners in Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, and Westford. Additional copies were provided to veterinary hospitals, pet boarders and groomers, and other entities that provide care for animals.

General Agenda for Public Events
5:45 to 6:00 p.m. Attendees arrive, review materials, and find their seats.
6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Presentation by subject-matter experts: SMART (State of MA Animal Response Team), animal control officers, veterinary and emergency response professionals. Q&A at end, followed by optional tour at 7.
7:00 to 7:30 p.m. See the emergency pet supplies trailer maintained by NERAC (Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council), available to emergency management directors in our region. Some events may offer viewings of the town's animal emergency care ambulance.

Recap of Events

1. Tewksbury Council on Aging / Senior Center
175 Chandler Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876
Thursday, February 28, 6 to 7 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. David Schwarz, DVM, President of SMART

The COA has served in previous disasters as Tewksbury's emergency shelter and warming center.

2. Trinity EMS Training Center
10 Jean Ave., Chelmsford, MA 01824
Monday, March 4, 6 to 7 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. David Schwarz, DVM, President of SMART

Trinity's facility has been the site of pet sheltering education and tabletop exercises for response partners across the Upper Merrimack Valley. This session focused on emergency shelters across Dracut and Greater Lowell. Translators were available for those whose primary language is French or Mandarin Chinese.

3. Chelmsford Council on Aging / Senior Center
75 Groton Road / Route 40, N. Chelmsford, MA 01863
Monday, March 18, 6 to 7 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. Ilene Segal, DVM, Parkway Veterinary Hospital

The COA has served in the past as the emergency warming center for Chelmsford residents. This site is expected to be the town's pet-friendly emergency shelter in case of disasters. Pets kept at the COA in an emergency would be accessed through a separate entrance. Translators were available for those whose primary language is Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.
This event broke previous attendance records, and was taped for airing on local access cable stations.

4. Blanchard Middle School
14 West Street, Westford, MA 01886
Wednesday, March 20, 6 to 7 p.m.
Speaker: Cheryl Noroian, SMART (Board of Directors)
Veterinary Support: Meg Mizzoni, Westford's Animal Control Officer

Blanchard School has served in several disasters as Westford's emergency shelter. The site is being evaluated for ways in which animals could be co-located at the same facility. Separate access to areas that shelter pets would protect those who are allergic to animals. A translator for French, Italian, and German who also communicates via American Sign Language was available for those who have difficulty with spoken English.

See the Recap story for photos from the last two presentations, plus grant activities that continued into June.

Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, 55 Main Street, Westford, MA 01886