Saturday, October 1, 2011

In next twp. evacuation: people -- & pets!

“We’re changing out policies,” said Lawrence Mayor Greg Puliti yesterday, referring to how Lawrence handles pets during emergencies such as Hurricane Irene late last summer.

A township bulletin about storm preparations included this sentence, inflammatory for some residents with pets: “Pets are prohibited at all shelter locations.” This position prompted questions to town management (see blog post for Sept.1); sharing of a Packet group story about the town of Manville, which practiced enlightened, humane care for pets during Irene; and a letter to the editor of the Lawrence Ledger.

Yesterday, Mayor Puliti indicated Lawrence will be getting with the program. He made these points:

1. Lawrence will add a few alternate evacuation locations that can accommodate pets. These will be identified up front (presumably, in any bulletin preceding the next hurricane of disaster of any kind).

2. In checking with the county, he learned it has a mobile trailer that Lawrence can request as needed to accommodate any pet overflow.

3. The township will buy some temporary cages for use with animals housed at Camp Bow-Wow, a Bakers Basin Road boarding facility for pets.

4. It and other places like Pets Plus, near the Brunswick Circle, could become evacuation sites for pets.

5. Lawrence’s animal control officer (ACO) is part of the emergency management team.

Of course, questions remain. How will these changes be communicated to Lawrence residents? Can Lawrence be assured use of the mobile trailer(s)? – or could another Mercer County town get there first? How will pets alone at home be identified and evacuated? (Asked this, the mayor said the municipal clerk may devise some kind of registry, maybe drawing on cat and dog license information.)

It’s a great relief to know Lawrence is moving in the right direction on caring for pets during disasters.

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