Jamie Kanski and her donkeys. Kanski is an advocate of advance preparation for disaster. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
By Jodi Schneider McNamee
Getting your pets out of harm's way in an emergency is a critical part of disaster preparedness in Sisters Country.
The Pet Evacuation Team, P.E.T., is a non-profit animal-rescue organization that works under the direction of the Red Cross and emergency services to ensure the safety and welfare of domestic animals during a natural disaster or as a result of abuse and neglect.
P.E.T. of Deschutes County was founded by Jamie Kanski in 2001.
Kanski, regional coordinator of P.E.T., will be holding a presentation in Sisters on preparing your pets for a disaster on Saturday, June 1, at 5 p.m. at Sisters Feed & Supply on Main Avenue.
Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared.
"Our primary goal is to serve animals in crisis situations," says Kanski.
The P.E.T. team consists of 114 trained volunteers that are experienced in animal evacuations.
P.E.T has been on standby with the Red Cross each year when fires have broken out in Sisters Country, including last year's Pole Creek Fire. They had set up an evacuation center at the rodeo grounds. The center was a safe haven for families to leave their pet until the threat was
In Sisters Country there are many folks with large animals, such as horses, alpaca, llama and donkeys. Plans for their evacuation require detailed logistics.
"We need more people to know that help with pets is available," Kanski said.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the Humane Society of the United States called Kanski and asked if a few volunteers from the Pet Evacuation Team could help them with animal rescue in New Orleans.
"They arranged for us to fly out to Baton Rouge for a week and help evacuate the animals in crisis," recalled Kanski. "It was one tremendous experience for us."
It was after Hurricane Katrina that disaster planning for animals became mandatory. It was then that P.E.T. became affiliated with the American Red Cross, and can now be more integrated with regional disaster planning and more efficiently respond to events when they
For many people, their pets are a part of their family. In fact, studies have shown that many people will ignore mandatory evacuation orders if they cannot take their pets with them.
Kanski wants to encourage people to plan and prepare for their pets in disaster situations.
"It is critical that you have an emergency response plan not only for your family but for your animals as well," says Kanski.