The BC Animal Food Bank is calling on the provincial government to sit down with them and create a plan that includes the needs of pets in the event of a natural disaster.
Animal Food Bank founder Nicole Frey created a petition to “include pets in official disaster response plans.”
The petition, created two weeks ago, had 1,400 signatures on Monday, close to its goal of 1,500.
“The petition was launched to raise awareness of the need for a formalized action plan to integrate the care and well-being of companion animals in natural disaster response centers, therefore ESS centers”, explains Frey.
She says without organizations like the Animal Food Bank, there will be no official support when people check in at these centers with their pets or if they leave their pets behind.
The catastrophic wildfire season in the Thompson-Okanagan area and unexpected flooding in the Lower Mainland have amplified the need for a plan that specifically describes the needs of pets.
âThere is no obligation for the ESS center to provide pet food, and therefore the provision for pet support is not mandated by the government,â says Frey.
She noted that the hotel vouchers that are distributed at ESS centers do not cover the cost of pets, which she said was a problem in the summer.
“(Centers) may or may not have pet food, they may or may not have crates, they may or may not have leashes, all of those things are essential,” says Frey.
The Animal Feed Bank has encountered several cases related to the lack of supplies to ESS centers during the fire season and during flood evacuations.
âI really want to be able to sit down with the provincial government and the organizations we partner with to make sure, during natural disasters, how we can make sure pets are not forgotten,â said Frey.
“You see people are forced to evacuate on a moment’s notice and the lucky ones can bring their pets with them, the unfortunate ones leave their pets behind.”
She credited an RCMP officer in Merritt, Const. David Feller, who took in animals abandoned during the floods.
âWe send him food and water so that we can do it,â says Frey.
Flooding has had a huge impact on the animal food bank this year, due to its supply cut off from the Lower Mainland after major highways in British Columbia were closed.
âThe problem with the evacuations from Merritt is that they all came to a center that we support,â says Frey.
âOnce the SSE center is closed, the need for help from these people and their pets does not go away, they have lost their homes, their jobs and we are here for the long haul, trying to make sure that they continue to have that support.
The Animal Food Bank accepts donations in the form of gift cards and pet supplies which can be dropped off at any Pet Planet location.