Report: Animals after Disasters Conference
I was thrilled to join Dr. Dick Green at the recent one-day conference , Animals after Disasters, hosted by the Georgia Department of Agriculture Emergency Management with Dr. Venessa Sims-Green and Augusta Animal Services Director Sharon Broady. The intent of this conference, attended by representatives from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Maryland was to improve our understanding of the scope of disasters from the financial, legal, and logistical response considerations.
Dr. Green has done field rescues or been involved in improvements in animal welfare on every single continent except Antarctica–from hoarder situations in the United States to animals trapped in volcanos to the Philippine cyclones. He also championed the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition of animal disaster shelter organizations as well. Over the years I have watched him build continued success and coalitions of coordinated people in the animal disaster and animal welfare movements. Although animal disaster organizations tend to focus on small animals, in this conference we also discussed horses and other large animals.
Dr. Green’s keynote lecture began with a historical overview to demonstrate how far we have come in disaster preparedness and, particularly, response. He started with Biblical references to animal welfare and humane treatment (Noah and the Ark, etc.). His timeline included 1822 in the United Kingdom with the passage of the first legislation in the known world for large animals which would later become known as the Royal Soceity for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Richard Martin drove this, and then Henry Berg was part of this movement for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824). The seed was planted in the United States, and in 1916 the Red Star program for horse ambulances on the
battlefields of Europe were started by American Humane Association.
The movement to protect animals from maltreatment (you will remember “Black Beauty” the famous book by Anna Sewell was written in 1877 and while forthrightly teaching animal welfare, it also teaches children how to treat people with kindness, empathy, and respect) was started way earlier than laws preventing children from being labored in the mines and dangerous jobs (passed in the United States in 1938). Civil Defense programs for humans came about in the 1950s, followed by many new national and international humane animal organizations in the
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