Helping People By Helping Animals
When disaster occurs, the safest course of action is to evacuate promptly. However, if you have pets or animals, what steps should you take?
That’s where local Butte County nonprofit organization North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG) steps in. From sheltering during emergencies to educating the public about pet evacuation protocol, NVADG is committed to the care and safety of animals big and small.
KeriLynn Anderson, Fundraising and Communications Manager for NVADG, puts it best. “NVADG helps people by helping their animals during a disaster,” she says. “In an emergency, we provide a safe place for evacuee’s animals, so they can focus on taking care of themselves.”
How NVADG trains its volunteers
NVADG relies heavily on its volunteers during an emergency and takes their training very seriously. “NVADG offers education and extensive volunteer training to assist in the evacuation and sheltering of small and large animals,” says KeriLynn. That means a minimum 16-hour new volunteer training class, in which participants learn about disaster response, animal first aid, evacuation procedures, and more.
But NVADG doesn’t stop there. “We continue to educate and train our volunteers to be ready in case disaster hits,” says KeriLynn. Volunteers must participate in year-round instruction and emergency preparation to stay current, refresh their skills, and understand operational procedures.
What NVADG does during a disaster
During an emergency, there are four primary ways NVADG can help the community.
- Small animal shelter: Evacuating families can bring their pets to this shelter (located in Oroville unless the disaster is nearby), for their safe care and feeding until the family has more permanent housing.
- Large animal shelter: Housed at Camelot near Butte College, the large animal shelter is where people can bring their horses, sheep, cows, chickens, and other livestock for temporary care and housing.
- Evacuation locations: A specially-trained Evacuation Team goes into the disaster zone (always working with the Sheriff’s department for official entry) to evacuate pets.
- Shelter in place locations: If a family is unable to return to their home for safety reasons, the Evacuation Team assesses the situation to see if it’s safe to leave the animal there (for example, a horse in a pasture or a cat in a home that hasn’t been damaged) and will provide food, water, and shelter for an animal until their return.
Residents can call their phone hotline at (530) 895-0000 to request an animal evacuation.
Pet safety and evacuation outreach
Educating the public is also a large part of NVADG’s mission. They attend fairs, workshops, and events to spread the word about being prepared to evacuate your pets. Can’t make it to an event? Request a presentation for your classroom or organization!
How to prep your pets for an emergency
NVADG strongly encourages everyone with pets to think ahead. “Be ready to GO,” says KeriLynn. “Have an evacuation plan for your family that includes your pets!”
First, make sure you store your pet’s essential items in a “Go Bag.”
Your pet’s Go Bag might include:
- Pet food
- Vaccination records
Toss all of this and a water bottle in a simple plastic bag and keep it in your car trunk.
Read more about evacuation preparation on NVADG’s website.
Feel free to contact NVADG with any questions or concerns you have. They’re always happy to help! And because NVADG is 100% donor-supported, they also appreciate your help. You can lend a paw—ahem, a hand—by donating or becoming a volunteer.