To commemorate Hurricane Katrina, animal rescuers hone their skills

To commemorate Hurricane Katrina, animal rescuers hone their skills
Thursday, 27 August, 2015
Yarmouth Port, MA

Precisely ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, disaster response experts from around the country gathered in Gonzales, LA for an intensive animal rescue boot-camp. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joined member agencies of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) to conduct the trainings.

“We see it in the U.S. and increasingly all over the world, the importance of keeping pets and farm animals safe during disasters has never been stronger,” said Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Disaster Response Manager.

“This week is about commemorating the brave efforts to save animals during Katrina and reinforce the rescue skills needed when we’re called to help.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many residents refused to leave their homes and seek safe shelter. An estimated 44% of those who refused to evacuate did so because they could not bring their pets with them. More than 200 animal groups worked together on pet rescues and IFAW assisted in the rescue, care and transport of approximately 7,000 animals including cats and dogs, farm animals, reptiles, and birds.

The following year, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which calls for agencies seeking FEMA relief to include animals in emergency plans, went into effect.

Boot-camp participants are recreating hands-on water rescue scenarios using animal mannequins, boats and specialized equipment. They are also refreshing their skills on pet first aid, animal handling, sheltering, and fire rescue.

IFAW has rescued and treated domestic and wild animals in more than 30 of the world’s worst disasters including the recent earthquakes in Nepal, flood response work in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Hurricane Sandy in the U.S., and the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at

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