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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Volunteers housing pets; Animal Control to handle animals on loose

By Suzanne Perez Tobias and Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle

Nadine Conner did something heroic early Sunday morning.

She braved flooded streets in south Wichita and opened her shop at 1:30 a.m. to allow pets rescued in the storm’s aftermath to have a place to stay.

“I am pleased that people listened and were prepared,” said Conner, owner of Sit Stay Dog Training Center and a member of the Sedgwick County Animal Response Team, which responds to and aids in the survival and welfare of animals during natural and manmade disasters.

Volunteers of the group were housing several pets whose owners brought them to emergency shelters Saturday night.

“We have them set up in crates. They’re fed, they’re vaccinated. They’re treated for fleas. … They all seem quiet and happy,” said Christen Skaer, a Wichita veterinarian and president of the Kansas Animal Response Team.

“This is what we train for and prepare for, and we’re very happy we’re able to care for these animals.”

But the amazing thing, Conner said, is that so few animals were brought in.

All told, 10 animals – eight dogs, a cat and a bunny – were taken in Saturday night at Sit Stay Dog Training Center, 1629 S. Meridian.

The Kansas Humane Society, 3313 N. Hillside, issued a news release Sunday saying it was waiving any sheltering costs to house pets of owners affected by the storms who may need boarding assistance.

Any stray pets or animals found in the Oaklawn area are being transported to Wichita Animal Control, 3303 N. Hillside. Any residents trying to find their pet should contact the Wichita Animal Shelter at 316-350-3366.

In addition, the Kansas Humane Society on Sunday said it was working in collaboration with Wichita Animal Services and the Sedgwick County Animal Response Team to provide care and shelter for the city’s displaced pets.

“The Kansas Humane Society is anticipating needing additional space at our facility as Wichita, Salina and other Kansas communities deal with the effects of displaced pets over the next few days,” Jennifer Campbell wrote in a news release on behalf of the Kansas Humane Society.

The Kansas Humane Society was offering 50 percent off all adoption fees Sunday and Monday. “By having more animals adopted out, our facility will have more room to provide emergency assistance and care for our region’s displaced pets,” the news release said.

If members of the public need assistance, they are advised to contact Wichita Animal Services at 316-350-3366 or the Kansas Humane Society at 316-524-9196. Both facilities are open 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Please note that not all Red Cross and other disaster shelters accept pets and owners are advised to plan accordingly for the care of their human and pet families. More information on disaster preparedness pet planning is available at the ASPCA’s website.

Conner reminded people that when there is a disaster, it is important to get pets in crates with leashes, food and water plus have documentation handy showing the animals are current on their shots.

In the case of homes without basements, an inside room, such as a bathroom, will do.

“I was a mile and a half from where the tornado hit,” Conner said. “I’m part of the Kansas Search and Rescue Association and what they make us do is be prepared with a backpack containing 24 hours of food and water for all of us. That backpack weighs 35 pounds, but I had it with me.”

According to the Sedgwick County Animal Response Team’s website, www.sedgwickcoart.org, 60 percent of the nation’s households have pets. And, according to a 1998 pet owner survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, 80 percent of those pet owners say they would risk their lives for their pets.

During emergencies, the Sedgwick County Animal Response Team encourages all pet owners to evacuate with their animals to prevent endangering human and animal lives.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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