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September 27
​Innovative Pet Pods Ensure Emergency Shelters are Prepped for Pets

Wake County Animal Center leads the way with research published in scholarly journal

We’re into the tail end of National Preparedness Month, and it’s time to remember those loved ones who too often get overlooked in our preparations – our dogs, cats and other pets.

Final-Pet-Pod-Packing.PNGWake County has developed a new concept to make sure we’re prepared to care for animals – called pet pods – which bring together the tools and information needed to allow the county to open an evacuation shelter that accepts pets at a moment’s notice.

The pods, which are contained in moderately sized metal shipping containers, have separate supplies for dogs, cats and the humans who will take care of them. The pet pods are stored in the Wake County emergency management warehouse, right alongside the supplies for humans, so the two resources can be deployed together in an emergency.

Developing the pet pods wasn’t just about saving animals, said Dr. Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center. During Hurricane Katrina, research shows that 44% of people who refused to evacuate did so because they were worried about their pets.

“When Katrina hit, families were forced to make a terrible choice. They could leave their pets behind to fend for themselves, or they could place their loved ones in danger by refusing the evacuate,” Dr. Federico said. “As pets become more and more a part of the family, people are increasingly willing to risk their lives to protect their dogs and cats.”

The pods got their first test last year during Hurricane Florence, when Wake County provided shelter for more than 1,000 people and 90 pets who evacuated from the North Carolina coast. Before the creation of pet pods, Wake County had never sheltered more than five animals during an emergency.

Federico wants other agencies around the country to learn from Wake County’s experience as well. This summer, the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science published Dr. Federico’s work in an article titled “PET PODs: A Tool to Assist with Good Welfare Provisions during Emergent Conditions.”

What’s in the Pods?
Each pet pod is designed to include all of the materials and information needed to set up and operate an animal evacuation shelter, with separate carts filled with supplies for dogs, cats and the humans who will run the facility. Instructions are written for a general audience, since shelter managers may not have experience working with animals.

For dogs and cats, the pods have all of the essentials, including:

  • Bowls for food and water;
  • Gloves, paper towels and disinfectant for cleaning up accidents;
  • Oversized crates, which give animals room to move around;
  • Leashes and poop bags for walking dogs;
  • Can openers and food scoops for feeding;
  • Tarps and puppy pads for lining the floors.

Pet owners are expected to provide food, medication and any comfort items, such as bedding and toys, for their pets.

About the Wake County Animal Center
The Wake County Animal Center is an open-admission shelter operated by Wake County in Raleigh. The center receives all stray, abandoned and surrendered pets in the county and works in partnership with fosters, volunteers and local rescues to treat and rehome thousands of homeless animals every year.

To learn more about the Wake County Animal Center and animals available for adoption, visit wakegov.com/pets, and follow the center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @WakeGovPets.


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