The owner of an animal who appears to be ill or injured, or in pain or distress, and any keeper of such an animal must ensure that the animal is inspected, cared for, treated appropriately, and as comprehensively as possible, and without delay. A veterinarian must be consulted whenever the cause of any health issues, illness, injury, or other possible emergencies cannot be identified. Any ill or injured animal shall be accommodated in consideration of and according to their special needs and if required in separate accommodation. No ill or injured animal shall be transported, unless for emergency purposes and to ensure the animal’s welfare.
Animal Health History, Examinations, and Identification
- Each animal should be examined at a triage site. Particular attention should be paid to hydration status, cuts and abrasions, paw/hoof/foot health (e.g., pads and claws, area between toes), ear health (e.g., redness, discharge), oral injuries (may have occurred if animal was foraging for food), vomiting and/or diarrhea, respiratory disease, and evidence of parasite infestation.
- Animals should be bathed upon entry, particularly if they may have been in contact with contaminated flood water. Dawn™ dish soap can remove petroleum and some other toxic chemicals, but care should be taken during its use on sensitive species (e.g., horses). Those bathing the animals should wear protective clothing (e.g., rain suits, ponchos), gloves, and a face shield or goggles with a surgical mask to avoid mucous membrane contact with droplets and splashes that may contain toxic materials.
- Intake personnel should ask whether the pet has been in the custody of the owner since the beginning of the evacuation and should inquire about the animal’s health and vaccination history, paying particular attention to any current medical needs or chronic health problems (e.g., diabetes, which would signal a need for insulin injections). In addition, owners should be questioned about the animal’s usual temperament (e.g., whether the animal can safely be housed with others of the same species, whether it might be aggressive toward caretakers).
- A health record for each animal should be created and updated as needed. Identification information for the animal should correspond to that for the owner, so that animals and their owners can be reunited. Owned animals should be clearly marked as “owned” and not “abandoned” to reduce the risk of mix-ups. Photographs should be taken, if possible. Collars (leather or nylon, not choke chains) containing readily legible identification information should be placed on all animals. Ideally, all animals should be microchipped.
- Cages should be clearly labeled so that newly arriving personnel are easily apprised of the health status and temperament of sheltered animals.
- Animals arriving without owners should be scanned for microchip identification. Microchips are most often placed between the shoulder blades, but earlier models were prone to migration, so animals should be scanned from the shoulder blade down to the ventral chest. All scanners are not capable of reading all microchips, so if multiple types of scanners are available, scan with each type before declaring an animal to be microchip-free.