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FEMA IS-11.A: Animals in Disasters: Community Planning Course Summary

IS-11.a: Animals in Disasters: Community Planning

Lesson 1: Introduction


This lesson examines the reasons why household pet, service animal, and livestock care during disasters is a concern for animal owners, animal industries, emergency management, and the general public. It:

  • Describes the animal care community.
  • Examines the societal impacts of animal ownership.
  • Introduces the concept of the human-animal bond as a major factor affecting animal owners and care providers in a disaster.



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • List the major reasons why it is important to consider animals in disasters.
  • Describe the magnitude of animal ownership in the United States.
  • Define the human-animal bond.
  • Describe the ways in which animal care and emergency management are related.


Preparing for Disasters

The world can be a dangerous place. Our communities need to be prepared for a range of hazards and threats, including earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, floods, hazardous chemicals, nuclear waste, and others.

The best disaster preparedness starts with individual protection and safety. An attitude of personal responsibility allows us to identify, prioritize, and mitigate issues that arise in disasters.


Working Together

By working together, individuals, animal interest groups, and emergency management officials in the community can develop preparedness programs based on the community’s needs, expertise, and resources.

When disaster does strike, preparedness benefits both the people in the community and the animals for which they care.


Benefits of Animals: Agriculture

Our society has benefited greatly from advances in livestock production systems. For example:

  • Improved health care for animals helps protect our Nation’s food supply.
  • Increased efficiency in production allows a decreasing agricultural workforce to feed our Nation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the animal agriculture industry generates an annual revenue of about $125 billion.

Emergency management systems used to protect these resources are a high priority. Understandably, emergency management and other Federal and State/Tribal departments have traditionally protected our agricultural assets in disasters.


Benefits of Animals: Quality of Life

Household pets, service animals, and livestock owners and care providers also experience improved quality of life from living and working with animals. Many people in our society consider animals to be valued companions, confidants, health facilitators, and even status symbols.

The popularity of animals is reflected in the increasing revenue generated by the pet industry. For example, pet owners in the United States spend approximately $45 billion dollars on pets and pet supplies, with the amount increasing annually.

The central role of animals in our lives is also evidenced by media attention on animals, both domestic and wild.

The needs of animals and their owners have been prominent issues in several U.S. disasters.


Impact on Mental Health

Animal issues also have a significant impact on public mental health because of the emotions owners feel for their animals.

Mental health issues that arise when people lose or must leave their animals include:

  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Bereavement.
  • Anger.

These issues are particularly evident in seniors and children.


Level of Concern for Animals

Some people are more concerned for their household pets, service animals, and livestock in disasters than they are for themselves, which may impair their ability to make sensible decisions about their own safety and that of rescue workers. Examples include:

  • Failure or refusal to evacuate.
  • Attempts at re-entry into unsafe areas.
  • Unsafe rescue attempts. (There have been reports of pet owners being injured or killed trying to rescue their animals from burning or flooded houses.).

These behaviors are a major concern for emergency management personnel to whom saving human life is the highest priority. The new paradigm is that animals cannot be viewed simply as inanimate property.


Animal Ownership

Close to 60 percent of all U.S. households own a pet. This fact implies that during large-scale disasters, pet ownership may affect the behavior of large segments of the population involved. Strong attachments also exist between farmers and their livestock.

The potential magnitude of problems related to behavior of animal owners is high, as indicated by the frequency of animal ownership in the United States and the average number of animals per household.

Frequency of Animal Ownership in the United States


Species Percent of U.S. households owning pets
All pets 57.4
Dogs 37.2
Cats 32.4
Birds 3.9
Horses 1.8

Average Number of Animals Per Household


Species Average number of pets per pet-owning household
Dogs 1.7
Cats 2.2
Birds 2.5
Horses 3.5

Center for Information Management, American Veterinary Medical Association. U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Schaumburg, IL (2007).


The Human-Animal Bond

The human-animal bond is a term used to describe the fundamental relationship between humans and animals.

Bonding refers to the formation of close relationships, such as those between parent and child or husband and wife. Behaviors that communicate bonding among humans are also used between humans and animals.

The term human-animal bond can be applied to interactions between humans and many species, including:

  • Companion animals.
  • Livestock.
  • Wildlife.

The human-animal bond involves the care of animals and the quality of life for animals and humans.


Animals and the Family

Surveys show that almost 50 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be family members. The main reasons for pet ownership include:

  • Personal pleasure and companionship.
  • An educational experience for children (birth and death).
  • Replacement of persons in their lives.
  • Personal and property protection.
  • Rescue of an animal from neglect.


Livestock and the Farmer

The majority of livestock producers have a similar emotional bond with their animals. In addition, livestock producers support their families through the care of animals and depend on animals for their livelihood.

Our Nation depends on livestock producers to deliver safe, wholesome food and contribute to a healthy economy and international trade.

U.S. agricultural and domestic animal husbandry systems also contribute significantly to our country’s cultural heritage and identity.


Importance of Caring for Animals in a Disaster

In disasters, some people may use the way household pets, service animals, and livestock are cared for as one of the measures of the quality of human care provided by emergency management teams.

While the care of household pets, service animals, and livestock in disasters should never take precedence over the care of people, providing care for animals may facilitate the personal safety and care of a large segment of the human population.


Animal Issues in Disasters

Traditional concerns involving household pets, service animals, and livestock during disasters include:

  • The spoilage of the human food and water supply.
  • Animal bites.
  • Outbreaks of zoonoses (diseases transmitted between animals and people) such as rabies.


  • During flooding in North Carolina caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, some residents who could not evacuate pets refused to evacuate because they would not leave their pets alone and without care. As a result, a large number of people and their animals were either trapped within flooded areas or by surrounding flooded access roads, and county emergency management resources were quickly overwhelmed.
  • Following the Oakland, CA, firestorm in 1991, hundreds of lost cats and dogs were never reunited with their owners because their owners could not be found.
  • Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the rescue of abandoned and stranded animals that had been exposed to floodwaters necessitated the development of animal decontamination protocols to minimize the spread of pathogens in animal intake facilities and to ensure worker safety.
  • After a propane gas spill caused by a train derailment in 1996, all citizens of Weyauwega, WI, were evacuated, leaving many pets and livestock behind. Emergency management initiated a rescue effort.
  • During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, traffic became an issue. Some horse and livestock owners were prevented from evacuating their large animals once New Orleans began mandatory evacuation of its residents. Many horses that had survived the storm surge from Lake Ponchartrain and inland waters would later drown, trapped by the rising water caused by the levee breaks.
  • Following Hurricane Katrina, there were times when dairy cows could be fed but not milked or when feed was available but could not be delivered to the livestock.


Guidance for Animal Care in Emergencies

The American Veterinary Medical Association identifies animal welfare as a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being.

Caring for animals in emergencies is consistent with that policy.


Defining Animal Care Plans

Emergency management officials and animal care communities should work together to define plans for the care of household pets, service animals, and livestock and their owners in disasters. Plans should:

  • Respect the concerns of animal owners.
  • Respect the concerns of persons that do not own animals or who have medical or psychological reasons to distance themselves from animals.
  • Avoid unnecessarily exposing persons with allergies or animal phobias to animals.

Human shelters may restrict animals for reasons of hygiene, public health, or allergies.


Sharing Emergency Plans

It is important for emergency managers and the animal care community to share their emergency plans, and to collaborate in identifying and addressing the needs of household pets, service animals, and livestock in disasters.

Such collaboration makes possible the sharing of expertise and resources that is necessary for successful disaster response.


Rescue Workers and Animals

Plans for addressing animal issues during disasters are also important to emergency management officials because of the impact on rescue workers.

Many rescue workers will encounter household pets, service animals, and livestock while working in disasters. While they may be pleased to find the animals, they may also remain concerned about the animals’ well-being as they return to their tasks.

Unless there are provisions for the care of household pets, service animals, and livestock, the rescue workers’ concerns may delay or compromise their rescue efforts.


Emergency Situations With Animals

Let’s start thinking about some emergency situations that could arise. This next section presents a number of scenarios involving household pets, service animals, and livestock.

As you read each scenario, think about:

  • What you would do to resolve the situations.
  • Who could help you find answers if you don’t know the answers yourself.

Each scenario is accompanied by some specific questions. As you think about the scenarios, don’t expect to know all the answers at this stage. Just think about how you would answer the questions—both as an emergency manager and as an animal owner.

Then, when you start to develop your community plan, consider starting with a group session in which the planning team tries to answer some of these questions, as well as others you may add from your own experience.


Scenario 1 of 6

A train carrying propane derails and prompts the immediate evacuation of 1,000 households in a 2-mile radius. You estimate that approximately 50 percent of families in the evacuation area own household pets and service animals.

Emergency Managers:

  • Do you have an action plan to evacuate people with their household pets and service animals? Describe your plan.
  • Do you know where to house the household pets and service animals?

Animal owners:

  • How would you evacuate with your household pets and service animals?
  • What supplies would you take for your household pets and service animals?


Scenario 2 of 6

During Hurricane Jackie, many persons became separated from their horses.

Emergency Managers:

  • How would you reunite the horses and their owners?

Animal Owners:

  • There are 35 bay mares among 300 evacuated horses at the county fairgrounds. How would you positively identify your horse to the satifaction of the local authorities managing the fairgrounds?


Scenario 3 of 6

In a tornado, a tank of herbicide is knocked over. It may have contaminated the grain bin on a dairy farm. It also may have been sprayed onto the skin of some pigs at a neighboring farm.

Emergency Managers:

  • What are the potential public health risks associated with contaminated livestock feed and food-producing livestock?

Animal Owners:

  • Who would you contact to determine the safety of your cows’ feed and to determine the potential contamination of the milk?
  • The pigs do not appear to be affected. In that case, who can determine if there is an appropriate withdrawal time for safe slaughter of the pigs for human consumption?


Scenario 4 of 6

Many farms are in low-lying areas close to rivers. Flooding is a problem that can result in animals drowning, and difficulty in supplying feed to stranded livestock.

Emergency Managers:

  • How many farms in your community are potentially affected by floods?
  • What types and numbers of livestock do they have?
  • How would you obtain this information?

Animal Owners:

  • Could you mitigate the effects of future flooding through relocation of livestock areas, evacuation plans, or onsite flood control measures?
  • What department in your State/Tribe could help you in this regard?


Scenario 5 of 6

During a heat wave there is a local power failure that results in the death of 500,000 chickens in two adjacent barns.

Emergency Managers:

  • How could you encourage producers to develop emergency power supplies?

Animal Owners:

  • How would you dispose of this large volume of dead birds?


Scenario 6 of 6

A tornado damages a large sanctuary facility for wild or exotic animals, including lions, tigers, cougars, and bears. A number of these animals are injured and some have escaped.

Emergency Managers:

  • What agencies should be notified and how would the decision be made to try to recapture or to kill the escaped animals?

Animal Owners:

  • Do you have an adequate emergency plan including the capacity to capture escaped animals?



Lesson 2: Disaster Preparedness Through Planning and Collaboration


This lesson covers the emergency management planning process with an emphasis on the care of animals and their owners. It:

  • Suggests methods for creating a successful emergency operations plan.
  • Discusses methods to involve various levels of government in the planning process.



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Develop an emergency operations plan based on the criteria of an effective plan.
  • Involve Federal, State, tribal, and local resources in the planning process.
  • Establish effective communications within your community.


Local Preparedness Is Best

Having a local emergency operations plan in place before a disaster occurs is vitally important, for several reasons:

  • Incidents typically begin and end locally. They are managed on a daily basis at the lowest possible geographical, organizational, and jurisdictional level.
  • People with local expertise can identify common hazards and prioritize mitigation and planning to reduce the impact of those hazards on the community.
  • Local decisionmakers’ understanding of the community’s priorities for recovery enables them to make decisions about rebuilding infrastructure and services that reflect those priorities.


Why Create a Plan?

Having a plan of action that can be implemented when an incident occurs is the foundation for emergency preparedness. The plan of action should:

  • Contain information on community hazards.
  • Identify measures to take when an emergency occurs.
  • Incorporate the use of resources that are available.
  • Include testing of the plan through exercises to ensure that unforeseen issues are addressed.


Federal Laws Affecting Emergency Management

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 defines the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security in the domestic incident management and protection of the Nation’s critical infrastructures and key resources.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5 requires all Federal departments and agencies to adopt and use the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Click on this link to learn more about NIMS. []

The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act ensures that State and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals.

Click on this link to learn more about the PETS Act.[]

Other Federal Laws Affecting Emergency Management

Stafford Act: Identifies emergency management as a joint responsibility of Federal, State, tribal, and local governments and requires State, territorial, tribal, and local governments to produce mitigation plans as a condition of receiving funding for mitigation grants. The Stafford Act was amended by the PETS Act.

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA): Added authorities and responsibilities for FEMA to, among other things, ensure pet rescue and shelter.

Chapter 1, Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations: Contains policy and regulations governing emergency management and assistance and provides procedural, eligibility, and funding requirements for program operations.


The Stafford Act

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707) created the system in place today by which a Presidential disaster declaration triggers financial and physical assistance through FEMA. The Stafford Act:

  • Covers all hazards, including natural disasters and terrorist events.
  • Provides primary authority for the Federal Government to respond to disasters and emergencies.
  • Gives FEMA responsibility for coordinating Government response efforts. The President’s authority is delegated to FEMA through separate mechanisms.
  • Describes the programs and processes by which the Federal Government provides disaster and emergency assistance to State and local governments, tribal nations, eligible private nonprofit organizations, and individuals affected by a declared major disaster or emergency.


Stafford Act: Definitions of Emergency and Major Disaster

Under the Stafford Act, the President can designate an incident as:

  • Emergency: Any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State, tribal, and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States. A variety of incidents may qualify as emergencies. The Federal assistance available for emergencies is more limited than that which is available for a major disaster.
  • Major Disaster: Any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under this chapter to supplement the efforts and available resources of States, tribal governments, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.Major disasters may be caused by such natural events as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Disasters may include fires, floods, or explosions that the President feels are of sufficient magnitude to warrant Federal assistance. Although the types of incidents that may qualify as a major disaster are limited, the Federal assistance available for major disasters is broader than that available for emergencies.

In certain circumstances, the President may declare an “emergency” unilaterally, but may only declare a “major disaster” at the request of a Governor or tribal Chief Executive who certifies the State or tribal government and affected local governments are overwhelmed.


Presidential Policy Directive 8

Preparedness requires the commitment of our entire Nation. Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) describes the Nation’s approach to preparedness—one that involves the whole community, including individuals, businesses, community- and faith-based organizations, schools, tribes, and all levels of government.

PPD-8 links together national preparedness efforts using the following key elements:

  • The National Preparedness Goal states the ends we wish to achieve.
  • The National Preparedness System describes the means to achieve the goal.
  • National Planning Frameworks and Federal Interagency Operational Plans explain the delivery and how we use what we build.
  • An annual National Preparedness Report documents the progress made toward achieving the goal.
  • An ongoing national effort to build and sustain preparedness helps us maintain momentum.

Select this link to access PPD-8.


Sandy Recovery Improvement Act

The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (SRIA) made changes to the way disaster assistance is delivered under a variety of programs.

A significant change under the SRIA was an amendment to the Stafford Act authorizing tribal governments to request a declaration of an emergency or major disaster without going through the State.

Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (Public Law 113-2) (SRIA)

The SRIA amends the Stafford Act so that tribes are now equivalent to States in their ability to request an emergency or major disaster declaration from the President. Previously tribes were treated as local governments and were dependent on a request being made by the Governor of the State where their territory is located. Tribal governments can now choose whether to submit individually for a declaration or submit under the State. The SRIA amendment to the Stafford Act also:

  • Helps further eliminate or diminish procedural impediments to working directly and effectively with tribal governments and reinforces that tribal governments are sovereign nations.
  • Authorizes the President to establish criteria to adjust the non-federal cost share for an Indian tribal government consistent to the extent allowed by current authorities. Under this change, FEMA is required to consider the unique circumstances of tribes when it develops regulations to implement the provision.
  • Includes federally recognized Indian tribal governments in numerous references to State and local governments within the Stafford Act.

The SRIA also made changes to the way FEMA may deliver disaster assistance under a variety of programs. Key changes relate to:

  • Public assistance.
  • Hazard mitigation.
  • Disaster cost reduction.
  • Individual assistance.
  • Unified federal review for disaster recovery projects.
  • Payment of government employees for essential assistance.

Select this link to access a fact sheet about the SRIA.

National Preparedness Goal

The National Preparedness Goal presents an integrated, layered, and all-of-Nation approach to preparedness.

Successful achievement of this Goal will result in a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.

Select this link to access the National Preparedness Goal.


National Preparedness Goal: Capabilities and Mission Areas

The emphasis of the National Preparedness Goal is on building and sustaining core capabilities across five mission areas.

  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Mitigation
  • Response
  • Recovery


What Are Core Capabilities?

The core capabilities are:

  • Distinct critical elements necessary to achieve the National Preparedness Goal.
  • Essential for the execution of each mission area: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery.
  • Developed and sustained through the combined efforts of the whole community.

National Preparedness Goal: Core Capabilities

State/Tribal Laws Affecting Emergency Management

Each State/Tribe must have laws that are consistent with Federal law if they wish to qualify for Federal aid and assistance. State/Tribal laws define the specific responsibilities of the local and State/Tribal governments and give the State/Tribe the authority to pass local emergency management laws or ordinances.

Some State/Tribal laws are permissive and leave decisions to local jurisdictions. Other State/Tribal laws may be very specific and require certain actions by local government. Such laws are called directives and use mandatory terminology.


Local Laws Affecting Emergency Management

The local law or ordinance gives the local emergency management agency the legal authority to operate. It should:

  • Clearly define the authority, duties, and specific responsibilities of the personnel.
  • Identify who in the daily operations of the local government has the final authority for emergency management operations.

The person with local authority—often the mayor—is responsible for the planning decisions that affect future emergencies and has the final authority in actual emergency situations.


Preparedness Plan and the Law

On the Federal and State/Tribal levels, laws may be broad to cover a variety of situations within very diverse political environments. Local laws or ordinances can be more specific, defining exact duties, actions, or requirements.

Local law should provide for the establishment of an emergency operations or preparedness plan that describes in detail who has the authority to do what in disasters.

The emergency operations plan itself is not a law. Rather, it is a detailed description of the actions that are authorized under the law.


Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreements

Even if you feel you have all the resources you need to provide for animal care during a typical incident, situations may arise making it necessary to rely on neighboring areas.

A mutual aid and assistance agreement is a legal document that provides a means for a jurisdiction to provide resources, facilities, services, and other required support to another jurisdiction during an incident. The document is signed by the heads of the governments or organizations involved.

Mutual aid and assistance agreements may address such issues as:

  • Access across boundaries.
  • Provision of resources and services.
  • Public safety actions.
  • Who will declare that a state of emergency exists.
  • Who will be in charge of the resources received.
  • Who will provide compensation and death benefits for those injured or killed while rendering aid.


Handling Overlap and Conflicts

Review all your animal-related laws to determine who is responsible for what actions.

  • If there is a duplication or overlap of duties, a written memorandum of understanding (MOU) between agencies should be developed to designate specific responsibilities during an incident.
  • If responsibilities are omitted, they can be included in the MOU until appropriate legislation is enacted.

Conflicts or disagreements should be resolved in writing. By doing this in advance, confusion over responsibilities, liabilities, and financial commitments can be avoided.


Who Gets Involved in a Federally Declared Disaster?

During a federally declared disaster, Federal-level animal care providers are most likely to include representatives from:

  • Department of Defense.
  • Urban Search and Rescue.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams.
  • National humane groups that function as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Animal Care Providers in Federally Declared Disasters

Agency Description
Department of Defense (DOD) Includes the DOD Veterinary Services. The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps is activated in federally declared disasters upon request from the affected State’s Governor or the affected tribe’s Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive via the President. In the past, the U.S. Army has been the most important Federal agency that deals directly with veterinary issues in disasters because of their excellent communications capabilities and access to extensive resources.
Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) 28 National US&R Task Forces, complete with the necessary tools, equipment, skills, and techniques, can be deployed by FEMA to assist State, tribal, and local governments in rescuing survivors of structural collapse incidents or to assist in other search and rescue missions. US&R utilizes locally sponsored resources to enhance Federal response efforts, reduce response times, and strengthen preparedness in their communities.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Regulate Federal and State/Tribal health programs for animals and through Cooperative Extension Services have nationwide, county-based expertise to consult on most phases of emergency management.

Resources and expertise that county extension educators can provide in disasters include:

  • Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response.
  • Pesticide safety and handling.
  • Fire safety training.
  • Counseling related to:
    • Small businesses.
    • Consumer economics.
    • Livestock feed safety.
    • Water quality.
    • Livestock husbandry.
    • Family and personal stress.
    • Financial planning.
    • Waste management.
    • Building construction safety.
  • Gathering, evaluating, and disseminating knowledge and expertise through its email network and within universities.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Veterinarians within HHS function as part of the National Disaster Medical Services. The Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs) are composed of veterinarians and other persons who have pre-enrolled with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Federal Government. They help re-establish the veterinary practices of affected veterinarians. These VMATs are activated via State/Tribal and Federal emergency management officials. Their field activities are coordinated through the coordinator of emergency preparedness at the AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, IL. The AVMA is the designated lead agency to coordinate response activities related to animals in disasters.
Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) NGOs play an enormously important role in providing care for animals in disasters. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD)—a consortium of approximately 50 national organizations and 55 State and territory equivalents—is the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster. Animal-related NGOs traditionally have included such human organizations as American Humane Association, Humane Society of the United States, United Animal Nations, American Kennel Club, and the Cat Fancier’s Association. These volunteer organizations are a potential financial and human support resource to the local communities.


State/Tribal Participants

Individual veterinarians are licensed to practice in a State/Tribe through the State/Tribe licensing board.

In some States/Tribes, there are umbrella organizations for humane and animal control shelters and personnel. They cooperate in the care of animals when there are declared disasters.


Local Participants

At the local level, animal control, veterinarians, and humane shelters commonly deal with the care of animals. They have daily experience with the capture and rescue of lost or abandoned animals, temporary housing, and fostering and adoption programs.

In many communities, the animal control department has the legal authority to deal with stray animals. However, in other communities, the authority or power for animal care is not clearly defined, and animal care groups vary in their organization and capabilities.

Local veterinarians generally operate private practices. They have a permanent, vested interest in the economic health and emotional well-being of pet owners in the community.

By law, veterinarians are the only group that can legally diagnose and treat conditions in animals. Veterinary practices are often equipped similarly to human hospitals and usually have:

  • Surgical and X-ray facilities.
  • Examination rooms.
  • Diagnostic equipment.
  • Supplies of commonly used medications.


Developing a Plan: First Steps

Like implementing incident response, developing a plan is a team effort. Start by forming a committee.

The committee should be co-chaired by emergency management personnel and a representative from the animal care community.

Examples of suitable animal care industry representatives include:

  • Veterinarians.
  • County extension educators.
  • Directors of humane shelters or animal control.


Committee Member Credentials

Ideally, committee members should possess the following credentials:

  • Authority to represent their agency or organization.
  • Control over resources that can be used in a disaster.
  • Experience or knowledge of disasters.

In cases where community plans for animals and their owners are not well developed, the initiative for plan development may come from emergency management officials or the animal care community.


Emergency Operations Plan

A local emergency operations plan (EOP) is essential. Regardless of how many resources you have in the community, putting them to use without a plan is of little value.

A plan avoids duplication of resources and response and allows you to effectively integrate with the State/Tribal and Federal response.


Components of the EOP

An emergency operations plan:

  • Assigns responsibility to organizations and individuals for carrying out specific actions.
  • Sets forth lines of authority and organizational relationships.
  • Describes how people (including unaccompanied minors, individuals with disabilities, others with access and functional needs, and individuals with limited English proficiency) and property are protected.
  • Identifies personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and other resources available within the jurisdiction or by agreement with other jurisdictions.
  • Reconciles requirements with other jurisdictions.


EOPs: Three Related Concepts

The EOP described in this lesson emphasizes three related concepts:

Use of Existing Organizational Structures

Plans work best within organizational structures that are responsive in nonemergency situations. An organization that does a job well in day-to-day operations is best prepared to do that job in an emergency.

An EOP should be developed with animal control agencies, veterinary services, humane shelters, and other permanent businesses, associations, and professionals in the community who deal with issues that affect animals and their owners daily.

Meeting Crises at the Lowest Possible Level of Government

Crises should be met at the lowest and most immediate level of government. Plans call for local response to be supplemented, if necessary, by the next higher governmental level. A community plan that has the same format as other plans from higher levels of government facilitates effective collaboration in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Inclusion of Voluntary and Private Sector Resources

Volunteer and private sector (business, industry, and the public) involvement should be sought and emphasized. The emergency management partnership is important in all types of incidents.


Importance of the Planning Process

The planning process is just as important as the final plan itself. During the planning process, people and organizations learn to work as a team.

This next section contains information on how to develop plans. This process applies to emergency management officials and animal owners alike.


Planning Guidance

FEMA’s Comprehensive Preparedness Guide, CPG 101, provides guidance to State, territorial, tribal, and local governments about planning for prevention, protection, response, and recovery from an incident. This guide:

  • Provides FEMA’s recommendations on how to address the entire planning process—from forming a planning team, through writing and maintaining the plan, to executing the plan.
  • Identifies responsibilities and tasking, including the responsibilities for the care of animals.


Getting Started With Preliminary Plans

To begin planning, determine if your local government has an EOP. If you do not have a plan, make a commitment to develop an EOP and set a deadline for completion. If you have a plan, use the ideas on the following screen to evaluate and improve your current plan.

Some community EOPs may not currently address animal-related issues in disasters. It is essential that someone take initiative in the planning process to ensure that the needs of animals and their owners are addressed.


Your EOP: Where To Start

The purpose of a plan is to provide a systematic way of responding to an emergency situation. Begin by defining:

  • Who has command and authority.
  • The availability and use of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
  • Types of communication and under what circumstance they will be operational.
  • Potential hazards specific to your area.
  • Emergency organizations and functions.
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for response.


EOP Features

The planning group should strive to create a plan that is:

  • Flexible: Covers all aspects of emergency management and all types of incidents.
  • Multi-use: Features dual use of resources.
  • Detailed: Includes sections for individual operational responders, with sufficient detail to allow them to carry out responsibilities.
  • Consistent: Uses a format that is consistent between parts of the plan and with plans from neighboring communities.
  • Comprehensive: Addresses the roles of all levels of government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations.


Structuring the Plan: Functional Format

An EOP can be structured in various ways. The functional format, which is highlighted in this course, includes the following elements:

  • Basic plan: Provides an overview of your jurisdiction’s approach to emergency management including broad policies, plans, and procedures.
  • Functional annexes: Address specific activities critical to emergency response and recovery.
  • Hazard- or threat-specific annexes: Describe strategies for managing missions for a specific hazard. Depending upon the EOP�s structure, hazard-specific information may be included in functional annexes rather than stand-alone hazard-specific annexes.

Basic Emergency Functional Annexes To Accompany the Basic Plan

  • Direction, control, and coordination
  • Information collection, analysis, and dissemination
  • Communication
  • Population warning
  • Emergency public information
  • Public protection
  • Mass care and emergency assistance
  • Health and medical services
  • Resource management

Note: Some States prescribe an EOP format for their local governments. Be sure your planning committee is aware of any such requirements.


Structuring the Plan: Other Formats

EOPs may also be organized by Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) or by agency/department.

During a disaster, Federal assistance is coordinated based on the principles and mechanisms set forth in the National Response Framework (NRF). Within the NRF, ESFs provide concepts of operations, procedures, and structures for achieving response directives for all partners in fulfilling their roles under the NRF.

Several ESFs, described on the following screens, relate specifically to the care of animals during disasters.

Emergency Support Functions

Emergency Support Function ESF Coordinator
ESF #1: Transportation Department of Transportation
ESF #2: Communications DHS (National Communications System)
ESF #3: Public Works and Engineering Department of Defense (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
ESF #4: Firefighting Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service)
ESF #5: Information and Planning DHS (FEMA)
ESF #6: Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Temporary Housing, and Human Services DHS (FEMA)
ESF #7: Logistics Management and Resource Support General Services Administration and DHS (FEMA)
ESF #8: Public Health and Medical Services Department of Health and Human Services
ESF #9: Search and Rescue DHS (FEMA)
ESF #10: Oil and Hazardous Materials Response Environmental Protection Agency
ESF #11: Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Agriculture
ESF #12: Energy Department of Energy
ESF #13: Public Safety and Security ESF Coordinator: Department of Justice
ESF #14: Long-Term Community Recovery – Superseded by the National Disaster Recovery Framework DHS (FEMA)
ESF #15: External Affairs DHS


ESF #11: Agriculture and Natural Resources

ESF #11, Agriculture and Natural Resources, supports State, tribal, and local authorities and other Federal agency efforts to:

  • Control and eradicate, as appropriate, any outbreak of a highly contagious or economically devastating animal/zoonotic (i.e., transmitted between animals and people) disease.
  • Provide for the safety and well-being of household pets during an emergency response or evacuation situation.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) coordinates ESF #11.


Other ESFs Related to Animal Care

  • ESF #6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Temporary Housing, and Human Services ensures coordination of mass care services to provide for the safety and well-being of household pets and service animals during evacuations and sheltering.
  • ESF #8 – Public Health and Medical Services, in coordination with ESF #11, ensures the health, safety, and security of food-producing animals, animal feed, and therapeutics.
  • ESF #9 – Search and Rescue integrates animal search and rescue services provided by animal control agencies and humane organizations.


Establishing Effective Communications

The private sector can help establish communications between the incident site and other elements of the response organization, and other resources that may be needed in a disaster.

Private companies may also supply trained operators for communications resources and help determine the potential costs.


Designating a Primary Contact

For each private-sector group that may serve as a resource for incident management, it is important to designate one individual to serve as your primary contact. Often that person is the individual who owns or is responsible for the resource. It is also a good practice to identify alternative contacts.

A written commitment—typically in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU)—from each organization should be signed by your primary contact and kept on file in the office of the emergency manager, cataloged by resource type.

Potential Types of Local Resources for Animal Issues

  • 4-H groups
  • Agriculture department
  • American Red Cross
  • Animal care and control
  • Animal control advisory groups
  • Animal owners
  • Aquariums
  • Army Veterinary Corps
  • Breeders
  • County Extension Service
  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR)/Fish and Game
  • Educators
  • Environmental groups
  • Future Farmers of America (FFA)/youth groups
  • Game wardens
  • Health departments
  • Horse assistance and evacuation teams
  • Hotel/motel associations
  • Humane organizations
  • Livestock haulers
  • Livestock producer organizations
  • National Guard
  • Neighborhood emergency groups
  • Pet suppliers
  • Professional animal trainers
  • Racetracks
  • Renderers
  • Research facilities
  • The Salvation Army
  • Schools/educational institutions
  • Search and rescue teams
  • Service dogs/training facilities
  • Specialty companies (e.g., oil spills)
  • Theme parks
  • U.S. Pony Clubs
  • Veterinarians
  • Wildlife agencies
  • Wildlife rehabilitators
  • Zoo personnel


Completing the Plan

A plan is developed incrementally. For example, a good approach for developing a plan with a functional format is to:

  • Develop the basic plan.
  • Identify and write the annexes necessary to provide the plan details.
  • As functional annexes are written, identify and develop necessary hazard- and threat-specific annexes.
  • Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) that specify methods of performing the various functions.

The care of animals can be integrated into the EOP as an annex. The appropriate animal care providers should develop the SOPs.


Characteristics of a Good Plan

The plan should provide for an organizational structure and offer a definite course of action to meet emergencies or disasters. A good EOP also:

  • Is based on facts or valid assumptions.
  • Includes a community resource inventory.
  • Uses clear, simple language.
  • Coordinates department plans within the jurisdiction with the overall emergency management plan through annexes.
  • Avoids duplication and conflicts in tasks.


Testing the Plan

The most effective way to test your plan is to conduct exercises. Through exercises you can identify any shortcomings in the plan and ensure that personnel can effectively carry out their roles and expected actions.

The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) offers a common exercise policy and provides program guidance that constitutes a national standard for exercises. It also provides useful tools that exercise managers can use to plan, conduct, and evaluate exercises to improve overall preparedness.

Click on this link for more information on HSEEP. []


Types of Exercises

HSEEP identifies two main categories of exercises:

Discussion-based exercises familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreements, and procedures, or may be used to develop new plans, policies, agreements, and procedures.

Operations-based exercises validate plans, policies, agreements, and procedures; clarify roles and responsibilities; and identify resource gaps in an operational environment.


Discussion-Based Exercises

Discussion-based exercises familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreements, and procedures, or may be used to develop new plans, policies, agreements, and procedures. They are used as a building block for more complex exercises. Discussion-based exercises include:

A seminar is an informal discussion, designed to orient participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures (e.g., a seminar to review a new SOP for evacuating large animals).

A workshop resembles a seminar but is employed to build specific products, such as a draft plan or policy (e.g., a Training and Exercise Plan Workshop is used to develop a Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan).

Tabletop Exercises
A tabletop exercise involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting. A tabletop exercise attempts to approximate reality. The focus is on training and familiarization with roles, procedures, responsibilities, and personalities in the jurisdiction’s emergency management system. Tabletop exercises can be used to assess plans, policies, and procedures.

A game is a simulation of operations that often involves two or more teams, usually in a competitive environment, using rules, data, and procedures designed to depict an actual or assumed real-life situation.


Operations-Based Exercises

Operations-based exercises validate plans, policies, agreements, and procedures; clarify roles and responsibilities; and identify resource gaps in an operational environment. Operations-based exercises include:

A drill is a coordinated, supervised activity usually employed to test a single specific operation or function within a single entity (e.g., a veterinary team conducts a drill for decontaminating animals rescued from floodwaters).

Functional Exercises
A functional exercise examines and/or validates the coordination, command, and control between various multiagency coordination centers (e.g., Emergency Operations Center, Joint Field Office, etc.). Functional exercises usually take place inside, such as in a classroom or Emergency Operations Center, and may include various forms of message traffic (written, telephone, radio). Although these exercises attempt to recreate a realistic environment, they do not involve any “boots on the ground” (i.e., first responders or emergency officials responding to an incident in real time).

Full-Scale Exercises
A full-scale exercise is a multiagency, multijurisdictional, multidiscipline exercise involving functional (e.g., Joint Field Office, Emergency Operations Centers, etc.) and “boots on the ground” response (e.g., animal shelter personnel identifying incoming animals).

Full-scale exercises combine functional exercises with drills in which field personnel of one or more emergency services actually operate. The movement of equipment and personnel is important for the preparedness of individual emergency service organizations. To ensure the success of a full-scale exercise, you must have first successfully completed several drills.



Click on the links below for additional resources:



Lesson 3: Analyzing Risks Affecting Animals and Their Owners


In this lesson and those that follow, you will begin to develop your emergency operations plan for the care of household pets, service animals, livestock, and their owners.

You will identify hazards and threats that are most likely to affect your community and learn what actions should be taken before, during, and after these incidents.



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Analyze your community’s risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Mitigate hazards likely to affect your community, especially in terms of animal safety.
  • Address animal-related issues during an incident, including animal transportation and animal identification.
  • Identify the roles of various local, State/Tribal, and Federal entities during a hazardous materials incident.


Six Planning Steps

In planning for all types of hazards (natural, technological, or human-caused emergencies), the following six steps are recommended:

  • Step 1: Work within joint teams of emergency management and animal care community representatives.
  • Step 2: Acquire information on local community hazards and threats.
  • Step 3: Develop goals and objectives by determining priorities and clearly identifying desired end results.
  • Step 4: Identify animal issues as they relate to prevention/preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • Step 5: Develop an animal care annex to the emergency operations plan.
  • Step 6: Exercise (practice) your emergency operations plan and update it periodically.


Exercise in Determining Local Risk

In preparing for emergencies, it is important to analyze the specific risks that affect your community. At the end of this lesson is a step-by-step exercise for determining local incident risk.

In preparation for that planning, this section provides some important background information about a wide range of hazards and the risk they pose to animals.

You do not need to develop an emergency plan for every possible hazard, but it is important to be familiar with common emergencies and to know what actions to take to protect yourself at home or elsewhere.


Community Factors To Consider

Factors to consider when determining threats to your community from natural, technological, or human-caused hazards include:

  • Your community’s history of emergencies caused by the various types of hazards.
  • Geographical considerations.
  • Community characteristics.
  • Proximity to high-risk areas.

In the following screens, we will look briefly at each of these factors.


Past History

Does your community have a history of certain types of incidents? If your community has had floods, forest fires, or industrial accidents these types of incidents could happen again.

You can learn about your community’s incident history from such sources as:

  • Local newspaper records.
  • Emergency management offices.
  • Local American Red Cross chapter.

Remember, however, that the past does not necessarily dictate the future. Your community may experience other types of emergencies in the future.


Geographical Characteristics

If you live near an ocean, river, fault-line, or mountains, related natural hazards could affect you.

Learn the geography in your area and the associated hazards.


Community Characteristics

Your community has many important characteristics that might relate to risk. For example:

  • A large city with critical infrastructures and key resources may be at risk for technological hazards.
  • Cities may also be at risk for terrorist attack, as evidenced by the Oklahoma City bombing and the attacks of 9/11.
  • A small rural community may have high risks from natural hazards associated with severe weather.

Your emergency manager or city planner can provide information about your community relevant to its hazard vulnerability.


Proximity to High-Risk Areas

Although your community may appear to have few risks, you may be close to potentially high-risk areas such as major transportation routes, large urban areas, industries, or military bases. For example:

  • Is your community beneath a major flight path?
  • Are hazardous materials transported through or near your community by train, truck, or pipeline?

Your local emergency management office can provide information to help you analyze your risk from such hazards.


Vulnerability Analysis

To prepare yourself to deal with various types of hazards, you must learn what the potential dangers are and which ones are most likely to affect you.

Once you have made this determination, the next step is to find out your vulnerability—that is, how much damage these hazards could cause in your community.

Your local emergency management office regularly conducts vulnerability analyses for your community. Ask your emergency manager for the results of these analyses.


Animal Populations at Risk

Knowing the size and composition of the animal care industries in your jurisdiction is critical to understanding the risks associated with disasters. Important information includes:

  • Which animal care industries are present in your community.
  • What roles they play.
  • How many people are involved in these industries.

The following are useful sources of information about local animal populations:

  • The number of pets can be estimated from the size of your human population combined with statistics on average number of pets per household.
  • Statistics on livestock and poultry facilities can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Information on animal care providers and suppliers can be obtained from the local Chamber of Commerce, the telephone directory, and similar sources.

Estimating Local Pet Populations

Local pet populations can be estimated by multiplying the average number of pet-owning households by the total number of households:

  • All Pets: Number of pet-owning households = .574 x total number of households
  • Dogs: Number of dog-owning households = .372 x total number of households
  • Cats: Number of cat-owning households = .324 x total number of households
  • Birds: Number of bird-owning households = .039 x total number of households
  • Horses: Number of horse-owning households = .018 x total number of households 


Analyzing Risks From Natural Hazards

What are the major natural hazards in your community? Natural hazards are those caused by natural events that pose threats to lives, property, and other assets society values.

Natural hazards tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because they are related either to weather patterns or to geological characteristics of an area.

We will discuss natural hazards separately from the others because they often can be predicted and you can mitigate many of the damaging effects.

Natural Hazards

In this course, you will analyze your community’s risk from the following natural hazards:

  • Severe thunderstorm
  • Flood and flash flood
  • Landslide and mudflow
  • Tornado
  • Hurricane
  • Winter storm
  • Drought and extreme heat
  • Wildfire
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • Volcanic eruption


Prevention and Mitigation

Prevention includes actions to avoid an incident or to intervene to stop an incident from occurring. It may be possible to prevent some human-caused incidents from occurring. An example is using surveillance, intelligence, and enforcement to prevent terrorist incidents.

However, it is often not possible to prevent natural hazards from occurring.

Mitigation differs from prevention. It includes activities to reduce the loss of life and lessen the impact to people, property, and animals from natural and/or human-caused disasters. There are many ways to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.



Mitigation is carried out through a community’s fire regulations, building codes, and other ordinances.

For example, the requirement that all public buildings have sprinkler systems is a mitigation technique against a major fire.

The inspection of new buildings to make sure construction conforms to local building codes is a way of mitigating fire damage or building collapse.


Mitigation Strategies

There are many different mitigation strategies, some of which require money, but most depend on awareness, foresight, and creative efforts.

As you learn more about the mitigation strategies that follow, try to think of ways to apply them in your community.


Mitigation Strategy: Reduce or Limit the Hazard

There are numerous ways to reduce or limit the amount or size of a hazard that is manufactured. The following are examples:

  • Restrict the use of hazardous chemicals to specific areas within a community.
  • Surround the hazard by some type of containment structure.
  • Ban vehicles carrying explosives from densely populated areas.
  • Limit the amount of hazardous chemicals a manufacturing plant has on site at any one time.
  • Impound nuclear wastes to prevent release.


Mitigation Strategy: Modify Basic Qualities of a Hazard

Suppose that dangerous chemicals were packaged with a neutralizing agent next to them. If the chemical container were damaged, the neutralizing agent would automatically release, thus minimizing the toxic effects of the spilled chemical.

Another example of modifying the basic qualities of a hazard is adding a distinctive smell to odorless liquid propane gas so people could detect its presence and avoid danger.


Mitigation Strategy: Modify the Hazard Release

In some situations, it may be possible to modify the rate or spatial distribution of a hazard release. Suppose, for example, that the Federal Dam Safety Inspection Program detected a crack or some other sign of instability in a dam.

Gradually lowering the water behind the dam would limit the danger to the downriver environment, while also relieving pressure on the dam until repairs are made.

The use of levees may reduce damage in some areas and increase it in others, as was evident during Hurricane Katrina.


Mitigation Strategy: Research Ways To Eliminate Hazards

Private industry and the Federal Government put money into research to develop ways of making materials (like building materials) and products (like automobiles) safer.


Mitigation Strategy: Information Dissemination

Public information is key to mitigating a wide range of emergencies.

Examples of mitigation through public information include:

  • Providing information to residents about ways to protect themselves from hazards.
  • Requiring sellers to disclose potential hazards to land and building buyers.
  • Proper labeling of chemical products.


Vulnerability of Animals in Agriculture

Nearly all of the food produced in the United States is grown and harvested by a tiny percentage of the population. In fact, less than 1 percent of the U.S. population claims farming as an occupation. This concentration of agriculture makes the Nation’s food supply vulnerable to disasters.

Although new and emerging diseases represent the single largest threat to agriculture, natural disasters can also have a significant impact on farming communities.

For example, during Hurricane Katrina, poultry farmers in Mississippi lost millions of birds, including approximately 6 million birds on 2,400 farms in the State of Mississippi alone.

Hurricane Floyd drowned an estimated 100,000 hogs, 750,000 turkeys, and 2.4 million chickens in eastern North Carolina. In addition, floodwaters washed out the manure lagoons on pig farms, choking coastal rivers with waste and tens of thousands of rotting hog carcasses.

Protecting U.S. agriculture through disaster preparedness has great potential to protect the U.S. food supply and maintain a traditional way of life.



Considerable farming activity occurs in floodplains. Despite this, many farm owners and managers do not know if they are in a floodplain, which may lead to a false sense of security.

Common consequences of flooding on farms include:

  • Drowned animals.
  • Animals stranded without feed.
  • Contamination of the environment and water supply from overflowing waste.
  • Decaying animal carcasses.


Reducing the Impact of Floods

Often the location of a farm cannot be changed, but the potential impact of flooding can be lessened. Mitigation strategies include:

Assessing Farm Location and Farm Access: Farm owners can obtain information from county planning offices and natural resources departments about floodplains and flood risk assessment. This information can be used to review the location of and access to their property relative to this information.

Creating Flood Protection for Farm Access: Based on the flood risk assessment, civil engineers can help design and construct flood-protected farm access.

Identifying Safe Stable and Pasture Locations: Civil engineers can also make recommendations on suitable locations for stables and paddocks and identify high-lying areas that may be used as pasture in the event of a flood.

Planning for Evacuation of Pets: Evacuation plans should take into consideration the risk posed by flooding to companion animals residing in homes, and ensure they are evacuated during floods.

Constructing Flood-Resistant Manure Pits: Manure pits should be constructed in accordance with State/Tribal regulations. The impact of manure-contaminated water on wildlife should be addressed by the State/Tribal Department of Environmental Management.


Fire Safety

Barn and house fires occur too often, and many animals are lost to them. Fires commonly break out in horse barns in the winter when doors are closed to conserve energy.

Many barns and stables are built of flammable materials, and some have gas heaters in them. These factors can increase the amount of damage a fire would do.


Working With Local Fire Departments

Collaboration between farmers and the fire department is highly recommended because it enables them to develop a familiarity that is helpful in the event of an emergency. For example, knowing in advance where a farm is located, how many animals are there, and where to find large volumes of water can make the difference between rapid, successful response and total failure.

Farm owners and managers should consult with professional firefighters on:

  • How to fireproof barns and stables.
  • Brush control, including types of fire-resistant vegetation that can be planted. It is a good practice to consult with veterinarians on the safety of these plants for animals.


Power Supply

Many livestock operations and exotic animal collections depend on electric or gas power for their animals’ well-being. For example:

  • Dairy cows need to be milked.
  • Poultry and swine must be cooled in the summer and heated in the winter.
  • Feed bunkers and silos may have electric switches.
  • Many wells use electric pumps to deliver the water.
  • Exotic animals, birds, and fish depend on electricity for heat and oxygen.

Dependence on power to sustain an animal population represents a high priority for mitigation and response and should be addressed in the emergency operations plan.

Information on how power is supplied can be obtained from the local electric company.

If you depend on electric power for the safety of your animals, you should look into obtaining a secondary generator or another backup system.



General concerns with wildlife arise from their displacement in disasters.

For example, migrations of animals onto cropland can result in considerable damage.

When displaced wildlife is forced to cross highways and to roam in built-up communities, there can be an increased incidence of vehicular accidents.

Wildlife are categorized according to State/Tribal laws and are grouped into native and non-native species.


Native Wildlife

Native wildlife may include deer, raccoons, squirrels, bears, cougars, lynx, bobcats, coyotes, wolves, fox, and other species.

Most native wildlife belongs to the citizens of the State/Tribe and are privately owned only if they are bred and raised in captivity.

Free-roaming native wildlife are managed by the natural resources department. Wildlife officials, licensed rehabilitators, and veterinarians are generally the only persons authorized to treat these animals.


Non-Native Wildlife

Non-native wildlife include big cats, zebras, ostriches, and other species that do not occur naturally in the environment. These animals are often referred to as exotics.

Some States/Tribes have licensing requirements for exotic animals, but licensing is not required nationwide.

Many wildlife species are valuable and dangerous. If they were to escape, they could present a significant risk to rescue workers, the general public, and the environment.


Safety in Transport

Vehicular accidents are among the most common emergencies that horse and livestock owners will encounter.

A simple preventive measure is the regular inspection of trailers and tow vehicles for safe operation.

Companion animals are best transported in appropriate carriers. Unless properly secured, animals should not be transported in open pick-up trucks.


Escaped Animals

In disasters, the potential for household pets, service animals, and livestock to escape is high, leading to separation of owners and animals. Other concerns related to escaped animals include:

  • The threat to livestock and the public.
  • Increased risk to motorists who would normally not expect animals on the highways.
  • Exposure of food-producing animals to toxic substances that may be poisonous to humans.
  • Lost pets. Following heavy rain, floods, or snowfall, pets may become disoriented and unable to return home because their usual scent marks have been washed away or have become obscured.


Stray Animals

Stray animals are animals whose owners cannot be identified. The legal authority to deal with strays usually resides with the community animal control department. These personnel are often law enforcement officers who have many other responsibilities in a disaster.

Therefore, although the animal control department may have the legal authority to deal with stray animals, the care of stray animals may be a low priority. Alternative plans, such as working with a volunteer group, may need to be developed to address this issue.


Animal Identification

In disasters, household pets, service animals, livestock, and their owners can become separated, and animal abandonment has been a considerable problem in past disasters.

As many animals look alike to people other than their owners, an important mitigation method is permanent identification, using such methods as the following:

  • Livestock: Microchips, tattoos, ear tagging, and branding.
  • Horses: Microchips, tattoos, freeze branding, brands, or by their whorls (photos front and side are needed, but this is rarely used in the United States).
  • Household pets and service animals: Microchips, tattoos, collars, and tags.


Alternative Identification Methods

If household pets, service animals, and livestock have not been permanently identified when a disaster is pending, owners should seek reliable alternative methods to identify their animals. Examples of temporary identification methods include:

  • Photographing.
  • Painting fur or hooves with crayon.
  • Fitting animals with collars and identification tags.
  • Using hair clippers to shave identifying markings into the coat.
  • Putting phone numbers or other information on halters and neckbands.


Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) are common in households and in most sectors of the animal industries.

Most farmers know the appropriate methods for dealing with commonly used hazardous materials, such as herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

For others, gaining a broader understanding of what hazardous materials are and how to deal with them is also important.


Dealing With Contaminated Animals

In many disasters, hazardous materials spill and contaminate the environment and animals. Such exposures may introduce contaminants into the human food supply.

In addition, pets that are rescued may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals, potentially affecting not only the animal but those who handle it without protective clothing.


Dangers of Contaminated Feed and Pasture

For livestock and other animals that graze or live outside, the contamination of their feed supply may potentially introduce hazardous materials into the human food supply.

Even if an animal has ingested low levels of toxin and does not appear affected, its meat and milk may concentrate toxins and present considerable risk for humans through ingestion. Animals can be similarly contaminated through dermal exposure and absorption.

Sources of Information

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, are trained and qualified to make recommendations concerning the safety and suitability of food for human consumption.

Other sources of information about potential and known exposure to toxins in animals include:

  • State/Tribal chemists.
  • National Animal Poison Control Center, Urbana, IL.
  • Any college or school of veterinary medicine.
  • State/Tribal animal disease diagnostic centers.
  • Some human poison control centers.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture or State/Tribal veterinarian (for livestock only).


Addressing Hazardous Materials

Methods for dealing with hazardous materials should be specified in the appropriate sections of your emergency operations plan.

The following screens present a brief overview of the roles of various entities in an incident involving hazardous materials.


Local Role in HAZMAT Incident Response

As first responders at the scene of a HAZMAT transportation spill, local emergency management officials, firefighters, or police typically have the lead responsibility for establishing an Incident Command Post.

Incident Command Post Responsibilities

In an incident involving a hazardous materials spill, responsibilities of an Incident Command Post include:

  • Identify the materials involved.
  • Determine the risk or hazard posed by the spill.
  • Monitor and contain the spill.
  • Call for additional resources, such as the State/Tribal Department of Environmental Management.
  • Isolate the scene, restrict or reroute traffic, and conduct evacuation if necessary.
  • Provide first aid as needed.
  • Fight any fires and protect against explosions.
  • Keep the public informed of the hazards that exist, the actions taken, precautionary measures, and evacuation routes and destinations (if necessary).
  • Take overall scene management responsibilities.


First Responders’ Equipment Limitations

The first local forces on the scene may not have the specialized clothing needed to rescue personnel in a chemical emergency without becoming affected themselves.

Once a chemical emergency has been identified, specially equipped responders may arrive who are better able to take action.

A fully encapsulated suit is often required in incidents involving toxic substances.


Local Emergency Management Roles

Your local emergency management agency will usually take on the following responsibilities:

  • Notify appropriate State/Tribal and Federal agencies.
  • Send and receive messages.
  • Record and disseminate information.
  • Assume the public information role from the firefighters and/or police.
  • Coordinate requests for outside assistance.
  • Activate a mobile command post, along with a driver, if required at the scene.

Typical Local Roles During a Hazardous Materials Incident

Entity Responsibility
Local public health department Safeguards the public when food or water supplies may be affected or when dwellings may become contaminated.
Chemist and toxicologist from the local public health department May provide advice on toxicity and personnel protection, as well as recommendations to the Incident Commander regarding actions to reduce public health hazards.
Public works department May assist in containment and cleanup if they have adequate protective clothing and equipment.


State Roles

States (including territories and tribal governments) have responsibility for the public health and welfare of the people in their jurisdiction. During response, States play a key role coordinating resources and capabilities throughout the State and obtaining resources and capabilities from other States.

The role of the State government in response is to supplement local efforts before, during, and after incidents. If a State anticipates that its resources may be exceeded, the Governor or the Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive can request assistance from the Federal Government and/or from other States through mutual aid and assistance agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Typical State Roles During a Hazardous Materials Incident

Agency/Department Responsibility
State Emergency Management Agency Arranges State and regional mutual aid and assistance and provides liaison with State agencies.
State Department of Transportation Assists with and/or provides for identification and containment of all materials on State highways and freeways or unincorporated county roadways.
State Police or Highway Patrol Provides general control of the perimeter of the incident (regulating traffic, for example) and will play other roles depending on State law and incident requirements.
State Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Game, and Regional Water Quality Control Boards Provide recommendations and guidelines when hazardous materials spills are likely to contaminate streams and/or waterways or would otherwise affect wildlife resources.
State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Personnel Possess technical knowledge useful to an Incident Commander in the areas of exposure to, protection from, and control of hazardous materials. In an incident in which employees have been injured due to exposure, or in a prolonged incident, State OSHA personnel may respond.
State Department of Health Employs health scientists who can help assess the potential human impact of a toxic release.
State Department of Environmental Protection Can predict the environmental impact of actions recommended by the Incident Commander at the site of disaster.
State Fire Marshal Has specific expertise relating to the behavior of chemicals in the environment and State fire codes.


Federal Government Responsibilities

The Federal Government maintains a wide array of capabilities and resources that can be made available upon request of the Governor.

When an incident occurs that exceeds or is anticipated to exceed State, tribal, or local resources, the Federal Government may provide resources and capabilities to support the State response.

Federal assistance is coordinated based on the principles and mechanism set forward in the National Response Framework (NRF).


National Response Framework

The National Response Framework (NRF) is a guide to how the Nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. The NRF describes specific authorities and best practices for managing incidents that range from the serious but purely local to large-scale terrorist attacks or catastrophic natural disasters.

This Framework is always in effect, and elements can be implemented at any time. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The structures, roles, and responsibilities described in the NRF can be partially or fully implemented in the context of a threat or hazard, in anticipation of a significant event, or in response to an incident. Selective implementation of NRF structures and procedures allows for a scaled response, delivery of the specific resources and capabilities, and a level of coordination appropriate to each incident.

Click on this link to access a copy of the NRF. []


Emergency Support Functions

As you learned in the previous lesson, within the NRF, Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) provide concepts of operations, procedures, and structures for achieving response directives for all partners in fulfilling their roles under the NRF.

The ESFs provide the structure for coordinating Federal interagency support for a Federal response to an incident. They are mechanisms for grouping functions most frequently used to provide Federal support to States and Federal-to-Federal support in declared disasters and emergencies and other incidents.


ESF #10: Oil and Hazardous Materials Response

ESF #10 provides for a coordinated Federal response to actual or potential oil and hazardous materials incidents. The scope of ESF #10 includes the appropriate actions to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a threat to public health, welfare, or the environment caused by actual or potential oil and hazardous materials incidents.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) serves as the primary agency for ESF #10 actions, depending upon whether the incident affects the inland or coastal zone (as defined in Regional and Area Contingency Plans).

ESF #10 Primary and Support Agencies and Their Functions

Agency Functions
Environmental Protection Agency For incidents for which EPA is the primary agency:

  • Maintains close coordination between EPA Headquarters and the affected regional office(s), DHS/USCG (as appropriate), the DRG, the NRCC, other ESFs, and the NRT.
  • Provides damage reports, assessments, and situation reports to support ESF #5 – Information and Planning.
  • Facilitates resolution of conflicting demands for hazardous materials response resources and ensures coordination between NRT and DRG/IMPT activities, and RRT and JFO activities, as appropriate.  Coordinates (through headquarters) the provision of backup support from other regions to the affected area.
  • Provides technical, coordination, and administrative support and personnel, facilities, and communications for ESF #10.
  • Coordinates, integrates, and manages the overall Federal effort to detect, identify, contain, decontaminate, clean up, dispose or minimize discharges of oil or releases of hazardous materials, or prevent, mitigate, or minimize the threat of potential releases.
  • Provides OSCs for incidents within its jurisdiction.

In general:

  • Provides expertise on the environmental effects of oil discharges or releases of hazardous materials and environmental pollution control techniques.
    Provides Chair for NRT and Co-Chairs for RRTs.
  • Manages EPA special teams under the NCP, including the Environmental Response Team, National Decontamination Team, and Radiological Emergency Response Team, which provide specialized technical advice and assistance to responders.
  • Coordinates, integrates, and provides investigative support, intelligence analysis, and legal expertise on environmental statutes related to oil and hazardous materials incidents, including regarding criminal cases, in support of responders.
  • Manages the National Counter-Terrorism Evidence Response Team, composed of investigative and scientific personnel to provide investigative, scientific, and forensic technical advice, assistance, and other threat assessment in support of responders.
Department of Homeland Security U.S. Coast Guard

For incidents for which DHS/USCG is the primary agency:

  • Maintains close coordination between DHS/USCG Headquarters and the affected Area and District office(s), the EPA (as appropriate), the DRG, the NRCC, other ESFs, and the NRT.
  • Provides damage reports, assessments, and situation reports to support ESF #5.
  • Facilitates resolution of any conflicting demands for hazardous materials response resources and ensures coordination between NRT and DRG/IMPT activities, and RRT and JFO activities, as appropriate.  Coordinates (through headquarters) the provision of personnel and logistical support from other districts to the affected area.
  • Provides technical, coordination, and administrative support and personnel, facilities, and communications for ESF #10.
  • Coordinates, integrates, and manages the overall Federal effort to detect, identify, contain, clean up, dispose or minimize releases of oil or hazardous materials, or prevent, mitigate, or minimize the threat of potential releases.
  • Provides OSCs for incidents within its jurisdiction (including for the coastal zone response for incidents for which EPA is the primary agency, but the incident affects both the inland and coastal zone).

In general:

  • Provides expertise on environmental effects of oil discharges or releases of hazardous materials and environmental pollution control techniques.
  • Assists in planning and preparedness efforts as Vice Chair of the NRT and Co-Chairs for RRTs.
  • Maintains the National Response Center.
  • Manages the National Strike Force, composed of the National Strike Force Coordination Center, Public Information Assist Team, and three strike teams located on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, to provide response capabilities, technical advice, documentation and support assistance, communications, and incident management support for response activities.
  • Offers expertise in domestic and international port safety and security, maritime law enforcement, ship navigation, and the manning, operation, and safety of vessels and marine facilities.
  • Maintains continuously staffed facilities that can be used for command, control, and surveillance of oil discharges and hazardous materials releases occurring within its jurisdiction.
Department of Agriculture
  • Measures, evaluates, and monitors the impact of the emergency incident on natural resources under USDA’s jurisdiction, primarily the national forests.
  • Assists in developing protective measures and damage assessments.
  • Provides technical assistance in the disposition of livestock and poultry contaminated with hazardous materials.  (ESF #11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains the lead for disposition of disease-contaminated livestock and poultry (e.g., avian flu, naturally occurring anthrax, foot-and-mouth disease).)
  • If available, provides technical assistance and logistical support.  Resources will be assigned commensurate with each unit’s level of training and the adequacy and availability of equipment.  USDA/Forest Service support is obtained through ESF #4 – Firefighting.  Other USDA agency support is obtained through contacting ESF #11.
Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Provides operational weather data and prepares forecasts tailored to support the response, through the Interagency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center (IMAAC) when activated.
  • Provides expertise on natural resources and coastal habitat, the environmental effects of oil and hazardous materials, and appropriate cleanup and restoration alternatives.
  • Coordinates NOAA scientific support for responses in coastal and marine areas, including assessments of the hazards that may be involved.
  • Predicts pollutant fate, effects, and transport as a function of time.
  • Provides information on meteorological, hydrological, ice, and oceanographic conditions for marine, coastal, and inland waters.
  • Provides charts and maps for coastal and territorial waters and the Great Lakes.
  • Conducts emergency hydrographic surveys, search and recovery, and obstruction location to assist safe vessel movement.
Department of Defense Provides OSC and directs response actions for releases of hazardous materials from its vessels, facilities, vehicles, munitions, and weapons.

Provides Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in response to requests for assistance during domestic incidents.  With the exception of support provided under Immediate Response Authority, the obligation of DOD resources to support requests for assistance is subject to the approval of the Secretary of Defense.  Details regarding DSCA and Immediate Response Authority are provided in the NRF core document.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:  Provides response and recovery assistance to incidents involving contaminated debris, including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear contamination. The scope of actions may include waste sampling, classification, packaging, transportation, treatment, demolition, and disposal.

Navy Supervisor of Salvage:  In accordance with its statutory authorities, provides technical, operational, and emergency support in the ocean engineering disciplines of marine salvage, pollution abatement, and diving services.

Department of Energy
  • Provides an OSC and directs response actions for releases of hazardous materials from its vessels, facilities, and vehicles.
  • Provides advice in identifying the source and extent of radioactive releases relevant to the NCP, and in the removal and disposal of radioactive contamination.
  • Provides additional assistance for radiological incidents pursuant to, or in coordination with, ESF #8 – Public Health and Medical Services DOE activities.
  • DOE radiological support provided to local, State, and other Federal agencies is provided primarily by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  DOE actions to respond to releases from its own facilities or materials may be provided by DOE/NNSA or another DOE component.
Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

  • Provides assistance on all matters related to the assessment of health hazards at a response and protection of response workers and the public health.
  • Determines whether illnesses, diseases, or complaints may be attributable to exposure to a hazardous material.
  • Establishes disease/exposure registries and conducts appropriate clinical testing.
  • Develops, maintains, and provides information on the health effects of toxic substances.

Food and Drug Administration:  Works in cooperation with EPA and USDA to ensure the proper disposal of contaminated food or animal feed.

Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Where hazardous materials are transported by persons, cargo, mail, or conveyances arriving from outside the United States, CBP provides extensive analytical and targeting capabilities through its National Targeting Center, full examination capabilities by trained CBP Officers equipped with radiation detection and nonintrusive inspection technology, and nationwide rapid technical response capabilities through its Laboratory and Scientific Services Division.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Provides coordination support during ESF activations, as well as recovery and mitigation assistance during federally declared disasters or emergencies.

Office of Infrastructure Protection

  • Designates an Infrastructure Liaison to address all issues regarding the recovery and restoration of critical infrastructure affected by a release of oil or hazardous materials.
  • Maintains database of sites with hazardous materials, provides detailed knowledge of various hazardous material sites as a result of site visits and vulnerability assessments, and works to reduce the vulnerabilities and risks from terrorist attack at hazardous material sites.
  • Chemical Security Compliance Division inspects high-risk chemical facilities at regular intervals, and may inspect a facility at any time, with 24 hours notice, based on new information or security concerns.

Science and Technology Directorate

  • Provides coordination of Federal science and technology resources.
  • Through the IMAAC, provides predictions of hazards associated with atmospheric releases for use in emergency response when activated for incidents requiring a coordinated Federal response.


What Are the Threats to Your Community?

Every community is subject to various kinds of threats and hazards, from localized events like tornadoes to far-reaching events like water supply contamination.

In this section, you will use three steps to identify and rank the threats to your community:

  1. Identify the likelihood of potential hazards.
  2. Identify community vulnerability.
  3. Identify the worst threats.

A worksheet is provided to assist you in this process.

Compilation of Possible Hazards in Your Community

Possible Hazard Likelihood
(high, medium, low, no likelihood)
(threat of disaster or routine emergency)
Worst Threats
Attack (nuclear or conventional)
Hazardous material dumps/storage
Radiological incident
Urban fire
Power shortage/failure
Winter storm/ice storm
Air crash
Water supply contamination
Hurricane, tropical storm
Chemical or biological warfare
Highway and transport accidents
Mud flow
Dam failure
Avalanche, landslide
Civil disorder


Step 1: Identify Likelihood of Potential Hazards

First, review the hazards on the provided checklist and add any other hazards that might occur in your community.

Next, consider each hazard using the information obtained from the:

  • State/Tribal geologist.
  • State/Tribal public health department.
  • Nearest U.S. Geological Survey office.
  • National Weather Service.
  • Other appropriate source of information.

Next, rate the likelihood of the hazard being a threat to your community (high, medium, low or none) and put a checkmark in the appropriate column.

For example, if you live in Hawaii, you would rate the likelihood of a winter storm/ice storm “none.”


Step 2: Identify Community Vulnerability

Next, consider your community’s vulnerability to each type of hazard.

Given what you know about your community, does the hazard present the threat of a disaster or just a routine emergency?

Mark the appropriate column for each hazard you identified as a potential threat.


Step 3: Identify the Worst Threats

In the last column, identify those hazards that represent worst threats to your community. Include hazards with:

  • likelihood of high (4) or medium (3), or
  • vulnerability to disaster.

These are the hazards on which you will want to concentrate first.



Lesson 4: Organizing the Response to Disasters


This lesson covers organizing a response to a disaster. Aspects of emergency management will be described, as will some of the unique issues related to dealing with animals in disasters.

For mutual aid and collaboration in disasters, it is important to understand the National Incident Management System (NIMS).



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the purpose of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and components.
  • Describe veterinary issues in disasters and ways to handle them.
  • Describe public health issues related to animals in disasters.
  • Identify environmental issues related to animals in disasters.


National Incident Management System

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.

Click on this link to access the NIMS document. []


NIMS Components

NIMS is much more than just using the Incident Command System or an organization chart.

NIMS is a consistent, nationwide, systematic approach that includes the following components:

  • Preparedness
  • Communications and Information Management
  • Resource Management
  • Command and Management
  • Ongoing Management and Maintenance

The components of NIMS were not designed to stand alone, but to work together.


Effective emergency management and incident response activities begin with a host of preparedness activities conducted on an ongoing basis, in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves an integrated combination of assessment; planning; procedures and protocols; training and exercises; personnel qualifications, licensure, and certification; equipment certification; and evaluation and revision.

Communications and Information Management

Emergency management and incident response activities rely on communications and information systems that provide a common operating picture to all command and coordination sites. NIMS describes the requirements necessary for a standardized framework for communications and emphasizes the need for a common operating picture. This component is based on the concepts of interoperability, reliability, scalability, and portability, as well as the resiliency and redundancy of communications and information systems.

Resource Management

Resources (such as personnel, equipment, or supplies) are needed to support critical incident objectives. The flow of resources must be fluid and adaptable to the requirements of the incident. NIMS defines standardized mechanisms and establishes the resource management process to identify requirements, order and acquire, mobilize, track and report, recover and demobilize, reimburse, and inventory resources.

Command and Management

The Command and Management component of NIMS is designed to enable effective and efficient incident management and coordination by providing a flexible, standardized incident management structure. The structure is based on three key organizational constructs: the Incident Command System, Multiagency Coordination Systems, and Public Information.

Ongoing Management and Maintenance

Within the auspices of Ongoing Management and Maintenance, there are two components: the National Integration Center (NIC) and Supporting Technologies.


What Is the Incident Command System?

The Incident Command System (ICS) is an element of the NIMS Command and Management component. ICS is a standardized approach to incident management that:

  • Enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and agencies.
  • Establishes common processes for planning and managing resources.
  • Allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.


When Is ICS Used?

ICS can be used to manage any type of incident, including a planned event (e.g., country fair, the Olympics, etc.). The use of ICS is applicable to all hazards, including:

  • Natural Hazards: Disasters, such as fires, tornadoes, floods, ice storms, earthquakes, foodborne illnesses, or epidemics.
  • Technological Hazards: Radiological or HAZMAT releases, or medical device defects.
  • Human-Caused Hazards: Criminal or terrorist acts or other food and drug supply threats.


Incident Command System Origins

The Incident Command System was developed in the 1970s following a series of catastrophic fires in California. Property damage ran into the millions, and many people died or were injured.

The personnel assigned to determine the causes of these disasters studied the case histories and discovered that response problems could rarely be attributed to lack of resources or failure of tactics.


Legal Basis for Adopting ICS

Now there is a legal basis for adopting ICS, due to Federal laws that require its use for specific types of incidents. These include:

  • The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 established Federal regulations for handling hazardous materials. SARA directed OSHA to establish rules for operations at hazardous materials incidents.
  • OSHA rule 1910.120, effective March 6, 1990, requires all organizations that handle hazardous materials to use ICS. The regulation states, “The Incident Command System shall be established by those employers for the incidents that will be under their control and shall interface with other organizations or agencies who may respond to such an incident.”
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires States to use ICS at hazardous materials incidents.


ICS Management Characteristics

ICS is based on 14 proven management characteristics that contribute to the strength and efficiency of the overall system.

Common Terminology

ICS establishes common terminology that allows diverse incident management and support organizations to work together across a wide variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios. This common terminology covers the following:

  • Organizational Functions: Major functions and functional units with incident management responsibilities are named and defined. Terminology for the organizational elements is standard and consistent.
  • Resource Descriptions: Major resources—including personnel, facilities, and major equipment and supply items—that support incident management activities are given common names and are “typed” with respect to their capabilities, to help avoid confusion and to enhance interoperability.
  • Incident Facilities: Common terminology is used to designate the facilities in the vicinity of the incident area that will be used during the course of the incident.

Incident response communications (during exercises and actual incidents) should feature plain language commands so they will be able to function in a multijurisdiction environment. Field manuals and training should be revised to reflect the plain language standard.

Modular Organization

The ICS organizational structure develops in a modular fashion based on the size and complexity of the incident, as well as the specifics of the hazard environment created by the incident. When needed, separate functional elements can be established, each of which may be further subdivided to enhance internal organizational management and external coordination. Responsibility for the establishment and expansion of the ICS modular organization ultimately rests with Incident Command, which bases the ICS organization on the requirements of the situation. As incident complexity increases, the organization expands from the top down as functional responsibilities are delegated. Concurrently with structural expansion, the number of management and supervisory positions expands to address the requirements of the incident adequately.

Management by Objectives

Management by objectives is communicated throughout the entire ICS organization and includes:

  • Establishing overarching incident objectives.
  • Developing strategies based on overarching incident objectives.
  • Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols.
  • Establishing specific, measurable tactics or tasks for various incident management functional activities, and directing efforts to accomplish them, in support of defined strategies.
  • Documenting results to measure performance and facilitate corrective actions.

Incident Action Planning

Centralized, coordinated incident action planning should guide all response activities. An Incident Action Plan (IAP) provides a concise, coherent means of capturing and communicating the overall incident priorities, objectives, and strategies in the contexts of both operational and support activities. Every incident must have an action plan. However, not all incidents require written plans. The need for written plans and attachments is based on the requirements of the incident and the decision of the Incident Commander or Unified Command. Most initial response operations are not captured with a formal IAP. However, if an incident is likely to extend beyond one operational period, become more complex, or involve multiple jurisdictions and/or agencies, preparing a written IAP will become increasingly important to maintain effective, efficient, and safe operations.

Manageable Span of Control

Span of control is key to effective and efficient incident management. Supervisors must be able to adequately supervise and control their subordinates, as well as communicate with and manage all resources under their supervision. In ICS, the span of control of any individual with incident management supervisory responsibility should range from 3 to 7 subordinates, with 5 being optimal. During a large-scale law enforcement operation, 8 to 10 subordinates may be optimal. The type of incident, nature of the task, hazards and safety factors, and distances between personnel and resources all influence span-of-control considerations.

Incident Facilities and Locations

Various types of operational support facilities are established in the vicinity of an incident, depending on its size and complexity, to accomplish a variety of purposes. The Incident Command will direct the identification and location of facilities based on the requirements of the situation. Typical designated facilities include Incident Command Posts, Bases, Camps, Staging Areas, mass casualty triage areas, point-of-distribution sites, and others as required.

Comprehensive Resource Management

Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of resource utilization is a critical component of incident management and emergency response. Resources to be identified in this way include personnel, teams, equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment or allocation. Resource management is described in detail in Component III.

Integrated Communications

Incident communications are facilitated through the development and use of a common communications plan and interoperable communications processes and architectures. The ICS 205 form is available to assist in developing a common communications plan. This integrated approach links the operational and support units of the various agencies involved and is necessary to maintain communications connectivity and discipline and to enable common situational awareness and interaction. Preparedness planning should address the equipment, systems, and protocols necessary to achieve integrated voice and data communications.

Establishment and Transfer of Command

The command function must be clearly established from the beginning of incident operations. The agency with primary jurisdictional authority over the incident designates the individual at the scene responsible for establishing command. When command is transferred, the process must include a briefing that captures all essential information for continuing safe and effective operations.

Chain of Command and Unity of Command

  • Chain of Command: Chain of command refers to the orderly line of authority within the ranks of the incident management organization.
  • Unity of Command: Unity of command means that all individuals have a designated supervisor to whom they report at the scene of the incident.

These principles clarify reporting relationships and eliminate the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. Incident managers at all levels must be able to direct the actions of all personnel under their supervision.

Unified Command

In incidents involving multiple jurisdictions, a single jurisdiction with multiagency involvement, or multiple jurisdictions with multiagency involvement, Unified Command allows agencies with different legal, geographic, and functional authorities and responsibilities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.


Effective accountability of resources at all jurisdictional levels and within individual functional areas during incident operations is essential. Adherence to the following ICS principles and processes helps to ensure accountability:

  • Resource Check-In/Check-Out Procedures
  • Incident Action Planning
  • Unity of Command
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Span of Control
  • Resource Tracking


Resources should respond only when requested or when dispatched by an appropriate authority through established resource management systems. Resources not requested must refrain from spontaneous deployment to avoid overburdening the recipient and compounding accountability challenges.

Information and Intelligence Management

The incident management organization must establish a process for gathering, analyzing, assessing, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.


Incident Commander

When an incident occurs within a single jurisdiction and there is no jurisdictional or functional agency overlap, a single Incident Commander is designated with overall incident management responsibility by the appropriate jurisdictional authority.

The designated Incident Commander develops the incident objectives that direct all subsequent incident action planning. The Incident Commander approves the Incident Action Plan and the resources to be ordered or released.

Incident Commander Responsibilities

The Incident Commander is the individual responsible for all incident activities, including the development of strategies and tactics and the ordering and the release of resources. The Incident Commander has overall authority and responsibility for conducting incident operations and is responsible for the management of all incident operations at the incident site.

The Incident Commander must:

  • Have clear authority and know agency policy.
  • Ensure incident safety.
  • Establish the Incident Command Post.
  • Set priorities, and determine incident objectives and strategies to be followed.
  • Establish the Incident Command System organization needed to manage the incident.
  • Approve the Incident Action Plan.
  • Coordinate Command and General Staff activities.
  • Approve resource requests and use of volunteers and auxiliary personnel.
  • Order demobilization as needed.
  • Ensure after-action reports are completed.
  • Authorize information released to the media.


Command Staff

In an Incident Command organization, the Command Staff typically includes the following personnel:

  • The Public Information Officer is responsible for interfacing with the public and media and/or with other agencies with incident-related information requirements.
  • The Safety Officer monitors incident operations and advises the Incident Commander/Unified Command on all matters relating to operational safety, including the health and safety of emergency responder personnel.
  • The Liaison Officer is the point of contact for representatives of other governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

Additional Command Staff positions may be added depending upon incident needs and requirements.

Command Staff Responsibilities

Public Information Officer The Public Information Officer is responsible for interfacing with the public and media and/or with other agencies with incident-related information requirements. The Public Information Officer gathers, verifies, coordinates, and disseminates accurate, accessible, and timely information on the incident’s cause, size, and current situation; resources committed; and other matters of general interest for both internal and external audiences. The Public Information Officer may also perform a key public information-monitoring role. Whether the command structure is single or unified, only one Public Information Officer should be designated per incident. Assistants may be assigned from other involved agencies, departments, or organizations. The Incident Commander/Unified Command must approve the release of all incident-related information. In large-scale incidents or where multiple command posts are established, the Public Information Officer should participate in or lead the Joint Information Center in order to ensure consistency in the provision of information to the public.
Safety Officer The Safety Officer monitors incident operations and advises the Incident Commander/Unified Command on all matters relating to operational safety, including the health and safety of emergency responder personnel. The ultimate responsibility for the safe conduct of incident management operations rests with the Incident Commander/Unified Command and supervisors at all levels of incident management. The Safety Officer is, in turn, responsible to the Incident Commander/Unified Command for the systems and procedures necessary to ensure ongoing assessment of hazardous environments, including the incident Safety Plan, coordination of multiagency safety efforts, and implementation of measures to promote emergency responder safety, as well as the general safety of incident operations. The Safety Officer has immediate authority to stop and/or prevent unsafe acts during incident operations. It is important to note that the agencies, organizations, or jurisdictions that contribute to joint safety management efforts do not lose their individual identities or responsibility for their own programs, policies, and personnel. Rather, each contributes to the overall effort to protect all responder personnel involved in incident operations.
Liaison Officer The Liaison Officer is Incident Command’s point of contact for representatives of other governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector (with no jurisdiction or legal authority) to provide input on their agency’s policies, resource availability, and other incident-related matters. Under either a single Incident Commander or a Unified Command structure, representatives from assisting or cooperating agencies and organizations coordinate through the Liaison Officer. Agency and organizational representatives assigned to an incident must have the authority to speak for their parent agencies or organizations on all matters, following appropriate consultations with their agency leadership. Assistants and personnel from other agencies or organizations (public or private) involved in incident management activities may be assigned to the Liaison Officer to facilitate coordination.
Technical Specialists Technical specialists can be used to fill other or additional Command Staff positions required based on the nature and location(s) of the incident or specific requirements established by Incident Command. For example, a legal counsel might be assigned to the Planning Section as a technical specialist or directly to the Command Staff to advise Incident Command on legal matters, such as emergency proclamations, the legality of evacuation orders, and legal rights and restrictions pertaining to media access. Similarly, a medical advisor—an agency operational medical director or assigned physician—might be designated to provide advice and recommendations to Incident Command about medical and mental health services, mass casualty, acute care, vector control, epidemiology, or mass prophylaxis considerations, particularly in the response to a bioterrorism incident. In addition, a Special Needs Advisor might be designated to provide expertise regarding communication, transportation, supervision, and essential services for diverse populations in the affected area.


General Staff (Section Chiefs)

The General Staff includes a group of incident management personnel organized according to function and reporting to the Incident Commander. Typically, the General Staff consists of the Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, and Finance/Administration Section Chief.

Operations Section

The Operations Section is responsible for all tactical activities focused on reducing the immediate hazard, saving lives and property, establishing situational control, and restoring normal operations. Lifesaving and responder safety will always be the highest priorities and the first objectives in the Incident Action Plan.

Organization chart showing, from the bottom, Resources reporting to Divisions/Groups, who report to Branch(es), who report to the Operations Section (at the top)The chart on the right depicts the organizational template for an Operations Section.

Expansions of this basic structure may vary according to numerous considerations and operational factors. In some cases, a strictly functional approach may be used. In other cases, the organizational structure will be determined by geographical/jurisdictional boundaries. In still others, a mix of functional and geographical considerations may be appropriate. The ICS offers flexibility in determining the right structural approach for the specific circumstances of the incident at hand.

Operations Section Chief: The Section Chief is responsible to Incident Command for the direct management of all incident-related tactical activities. The Operations Section Chief will establish tactics for the assigned operational period. An Operations Section Chief should be designated for each operational period, and responsibilities include direct involvement in development of the Incident Action Plan.

Branches: Branches may serve several purposes and may be functional, geographic, or both, depending on the circumstances of the incident. In general, Branches are established when the number of Divisions or Groups exceeds the recommended span of control. Branches are identified by the use of Roman numerals or by functional area.

Divisions and Groups: Divisions and/or Groups are established when the number of resources exceeds the manageable span of control of Incident Command and the Operations Section Chief. Divisions are established to divide an incident into physical or geographical areas of operation. Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of operation. For certain types of incidents, for example, Incident Command may assign evacuation or mass care responsibilities to a functional group in the Operations Section. Additional levels of supervision may also exist below the Division or Group level.

Resources: Resources may be organized and managed in three different ways, depending on the requirements of the incident:

  • Single Resources: These are individual personnel, supplies, or equipment and any associated operators.
  • Task Forces: These are any combination of resources assembled in support of a specific mission or operational need. All resource elements within a Task Force must have common communications and a designated leader.
  • Strike Teams: These are a set number of resources of the same kind and type that have an established minimum number of personnel. All resource elements within a Strike Team must have common communications and a designated leader.

The use of Task Forces and Strike Teams is encouraged wherever possible to optimize the use of resources, reduce the span of control over a large number of single resources, and reduce the complexity of incident management coordination and communications.

Planning Section

The Planning Section collects, evaluates, and disseminates incident situation information and intelligence for the Incident Commander/Unified Command and incident management personnel. This Section then prepares status reports, displays situation information, maintains the status of resources assigned to the incident, and prepares and documents the Incident Action Plan, based on Operations Section input and guidance from the Incident Commander/Unified Command.

Organization chart showing the Planning Section and its primary units: Resources Unit, Situation Unit, Demobilization Unit, Documentation Unit, and Technical Specialist(s)As shown in the chart on the right, the Planning Section is comprised of four primary units, as well as a number of technical specialists to assist in evaluating the situation, developing planning options, and forecasting requirements for additional resources. These primary units that fulfill functional requirements are:

  • Resources Unit: Responsible for recording the status of resources committed to the incident. This unit also evaluates resources committed currently to the incident, the effects additional responding resources will have on the incident, and anticipated resource needs.
  • Situation Unit: Responsible for the collection, organization, and analysis of incident status information, and for analysis of the situation as it progresses.
  • Demobilization Unit: Responsible for ensuring orderly, safe, and efficient demobilization of incident resources.
  • Documentation Unit: Responsible for collecting, recording, and safeguarding all documents relevant to the incident.
  • Technical Specialist(s): Personnel with special skills that can be used anywhere within the ICS organization.

The Planning Section is normally responsible for gathering and disseminating information and intelligence critical to the incident, unless the Incident Commander/Unified Command places this function elsewhere. The Planning Section is also responsible for assembling and documenting the Incident Action Plan.

The Incident Action Plan includes the overall incident objectives and strategies established by Incident Command. In the case of Unified Command, the Incident Action Plan must adequately address the mission and policy needs of each jurisdictional agency, as well as interaction between jurisdictions, functional agencies, and private organizations. The Incident Action Plan also addresses tactics and support activities required for one operational period, generally 12 to 24 hours.

The Incident Action Plan should incorporate changes in strategies and tactics based on lessons learned during earlier operational periods. A written Incident Action Plan is especially important when: resources from multiple agencies and/or jurisdictions are involved; the incident will span several operational periods; changes in shifts of personnel and/or equipment are required; or there is a need to document actions and decisions.

Logistics Section

The Logistics Section is responsible for all service support requirements needed to facilitate effective and efficient incident management, including ordering resources from off-incident locations. This Section also provides facilities, security (of the Incident Command facilities), transportation, supplies, equipment maintenance and fuel, food services, communications and information technology support, and emergency responder medical services, including inoculations, as required.

The Logistics Section is led by a Section Chief, who may also have one or more deputies. Having a deputy is encouraged when all designated units are established at an incident site. When the incident is very large or requires a number of facilities with large numbers of equipment, the Logistics Section can be divided into two Branches. This helps with span of control by providing more effective supervision and coordination among the individual units. Conversely, in smaller incidents or when fewer resources are needed, a Branch configuration may be used to combine the task assignments of individual units.

Organization chart showing the Logistics Section and its primary units: Supply Unit, Ground Support Unit, Facilities Unit, Food Unit, Communications Unit, and Medical UnitAs shown in the chart on the right, the Logistics Section has six primary units that fulfill the functional requirements:

  • Supply Unit: Orders, receives, stores, and processes all incident-related resources, personnel, and supplies.
  • Ground Support Unit: Provides all ground transportation during an incident. In conjunction with providing transportation, the unit is also responsible for maintaining and supplying vehicles, keeping usage records, and developing incident traffic plans.
  • Facilities Unit: Sets up, maintains, and demobilizes all facilities used in support of incident operations. The unit also provides facility maintenance and security services required to support incident operations.
  • Food Unit: Determines food and water requirements, plans menus, orders food, provides cooking facilities, cooks, serves, maintains food service areas, and manages food security and safety concerns.
  • Communications Unit: Major responsibilities include effective communications planning as well as acquiring, setting up, maintaining, and accounting for communications equipment.
  • Medical Unit: Responsible for the effective and efficient provision of medical services to incident personnel.

Finance/Administration Section

A Finance/Administration Section is established when the incident management activities require on-scene or incident-specific finance and other administrative support services. Some of the functions that fall within the scope of this Section are recording personnel time, maintaining vendor contracts, compensation and claims, and conducting an overall cost analysis for the incident. If a separate Finance/Administration Section is established, close coordination with the Planning Section and Logistics Section is also essential so that operational records can be reconciled with financial documents.

The Finance/Administration Section is a critical part of ICS in large, complex incidents involving significant funding originating from multiple sources. In addition to monitoring multiple sources of funds, the Section Chief must track and report to Incident Command the accrued cost as the incident progresses. This allows the Incident Commander/Unified Command to forecast the need for additional funds before operations are negatively affected.

The basic organizational structure for a Finance/Administration Section is shown in the figure on the right. Within the Finance/Administration Section, four primary units fulfill functional requirements:

  • Organization chart showing the Finance/Administration Section and its primary units: Compensation/Claims Unit, Cost Unit, Procurement Unit, and Time UnitCompensation/Claims Unit: Responsible for financial concerns resulting from property damage, injuries, or fatalities at the incident.
  • Cost Unit: Responsible for tracking costs, analyzing cost data, making estimates, and recommending cost-saving measures.
  • Procurement Unit: Responsible for financial matters concerning vendor contracts.
  • Time Unit: Responsible for recording time for incident personnel and hired equipment.


Multiagency Coordination Systems

The second Command and Management element is Multiagency Coordination Systems.

Multiagency coordination is a process that allows all levels of government and all disciplines to work together more efficiently and effectively.

The ICS 400 Advanced Incident Command System (ICS) course presents more detailed training on Multiagency Coordination Systems.


The EOC: What Is It?

An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is an example of an element within a multiagency coordination system.

An EOC supports the on-scene response by relieving the burden of external coordination and securing additional resources. EOC core functions include coordination; communications; resource allocation and tracking; and information collection, analysis, and dissemination.

EOCs may be staffed by personnel representing multiple jurisdictions and functional disciplines and a wide variety of resources.


Public Information

The final Command and Management element is Public Information.

Public Information consists of the processes, procedures, and systems used to communicate timely, accurate, and accessible information on the incident’s cause, size, and current situation to the public, responders, and additional stakeholders (both directly and indirectly affected).

Public Information must be coordinated and integrated across jurisdictions, agencies, and organizations; among Federal, State, tribal, and local governments; and with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.


Public Information Officer

The Public Information Officer supports the incident command structure as a member of the Command Staff. Public Information Officers are able to create coordinated and consistent messages by collaborating to:

  • Identify key information that needs to be communicated to the public.
  • Craft messages conveying key information that are clear and easily understood by all, including those with special needs.
  • Prioritize messages to ensure timely delivery of information without overwhelming the audience.
  • Verify accuracy of information through appropriate channels.
  • Disseminate messages using the most effective means available.


Keeping Lines of Communication Open

During a disaster, emergency management offices are often bombarded with phone calls from people requesting information and volunteering help.

For this reason, and because local phone lines may be jammed, emergency management staff often have designated phone lines and separate frequencies for communicating among themselves in a disaster.

Other reliable means, such as satellite telephones, are also used.

Planning for the worst-case scenario by collaborating with radio operators and local Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) groups may allow communication when more common communications tools are not functional.

Household pet, service animal, and livestock owners can also communicate information among themselves. For example, telephone or visiting trees (when one person phones or visits two others, who in turn each phone or check two others, etc.) can facilitate sharing information and resources.

Veterinarians, humane shelters, breed associations, and horse clubs should establish such communication networks ahead of time.


Learning From the Past

In the past, many efforts to deal with animal-related issues in disasters have been stifled by the lack of communication between emergency management and local animal care providers. These kinds of problems can lead to public resentment and loss of trust in emergency management.

Such problems can be avoided if emergency managers and representatives from the animal care community collaborate before and during disasters.

When planning for animal issues has taken place before a disaster occurs, communication can help alleviate animal-related problems.

Good communication on the care of household pets, service animals, livestock, and their owners will also enhance the overall performance and perceived efficiency of the response operation.

Public information about animal issues should be conveyed to the public through the Public Information Officer.


Evacuations Involving Animals

The decision to evacuate during a disaster is influenced by the following factors:

  • Nature of the incident.
  • Expected length of resident displacement.
  • Magnitude of the threat.
  • Time of year.
  • Communications available.

One of the greatest concerns and most controversial issues in emergency management is the evacuation of people with animals.

Rapid evacuation is intended to provide maximum safety for people. When those people have household pets and service animals, some consider the animals a hindrance to the safety of people. On the other hand, many people view their household pets and service animals as family members or as a source of livelihood and expect them to be cared for by emergency management officials.

Most evidence indicates that people who evacuate without their household pets and service animals later create more problems than those who evacuate with them. Owners should be advised to evacuate with their animals if it does not create a substantial safety risk.


Basic Assumptions: Pet Ownership

Some basic assumptions should be reiterated at this point so that emergency managers and owners understand each other’s respective responsibilities in dealing with animals in disasters. The ultimate responsibility for any animal lies with its owner. Responsible owners prearrange boarding and ensure that their animals receive appropriate food, water, housing, and veterinary care in a disaster.

Ideally, the responsibility of animal ownership should be understood and publicized as part of a formal plan before the disaster. Past experience suggests that outreach concerning animal-ownership responsibilities should focus on pet owners, who are more likely to be unaware of their role.


Why Facilitate Care of Animals?

The primary reason that emergency management officials help facilitate the care of household pets, service animals, and livestock is to enhance the care of people.

In the case of livestock producers, veterinary practices, humane shelters, boarding and grooming kennels, and breeders, emergency management can help minimize business losses. Providing emergency management expertise and resources for the animal care providers is a vital support function for community and commerce infrastructure.

Emergency management can facilitate the care of animal owners and their animals in disasters through the coordination of the resources and expertise of emergency management and the animal care providers.

Examples of resources with whom to coordinate the care of animals include:

  • Veterinarians.
  • Animal control and humane shelter directors.
  • County extension educators
  • Local evacuation teams.


Capture and Rescue

Some general principles should be considered when dealing with animals in evacuations:

  • All attempts to capture animals are potentially dangerous.
  • Persons should never place themselves in danger to capture or rescue an animal.
  • Nobody should be allowed to work with an animal or species with which they are not very familiar.
  • The credentials of all personnel who intend to work with animals in disasters should be predetermined, because in a disaster many volunteers will emerge, and it will be impossible to tell who is qualified.

Dangers Posed by Animals

  • Dogs, cats, horses, pigs, llamas, raccoons, and birds bite or snap.
  • Cats scratch and bite.
  • Cattle, horses, and other large herbivores kick and strike.
  • Llamas, sheep, goats, and other herbivores charge and butt.
  • Some large animals are dangerous due to their sheer weight and clumsiness in unfamiliar environments.


Species Differences

Conditions for evacuation vary for the type of species involved, such as:

  • Dogs and cats.
  • Fish and exotics.
  • Livestock.
  • Horses.

There are also differences in the ways animals have to be moved. For example, dogs and horses can be led, but livestock has to be driven. In a disaster, only people who know how to deal with the particular species should address these issues.

Dogs and Cats:

Dogs may be the easiest to evacuate. Cats, especially older cats, can be impossible to catch without a net, and many cats do not travel well.

Fish and Exotics:

Fish and exotic animal collections require special considerations before moving, such as sources of electricity and suitable water quality.


Large numbers (hundreds) of cattle and other livestock can be moved from a farm within 24 hours if the transportation is coordinated. This may be possible with help from the transportation department or through a trucker’s network.


Horses may not travel well unless confined to individual spaces in a trailer. Also, some horse owners do not have adequate transport facilities.


Shelter Policies

Some localities accept animals into their shelters, but American Red Cross policy states that only service dogs will be accepted in its shelters. The reasons for this policy are important to understand because they apply in a general way to issues that must be considered when evacuating animals.

Public health regulations. State/Tribal public health regulations may prohibit animals in public facilities, such as malls, restaurants, churches, schools, etc., with the exception of service animals that assist persons with disabilities. Disaster shelters are required to operate in accordance with the existing public health regulations of the locality in which they provide services.

Ownership of buildings used as shelters. The occupants do not usually own buildings where shelters operate during a disaster, so the user must abide by the wishes of the building owner.

Well-being of shelter residents. Concerns include injuries, anxiety, and lack of privacy suffered by shelter residents from pets that may bite or cause allergic reactions, phobias, and noise.

Liability. There is potential for personal injury and property damage claims arising from animals biting, scratching, or chewing; fighting and playing among themselves; and urinating in inappropriate places.


Public Health Issues and Animals

Historically, the greatest concern regarding animals in disasters has been public health. Particular public health concerns include:

  • Contamination of the food and water supply.
  • Limited food supply.
  • Zoonotic disease transmission and dog bites.


Contaminated Food Supply

An example of potential food contamination occurred after the 1986 Chernobyl reactor incident. Clouds of radioactive material caused international concern about radioactive contamination of cows, sheep, and other food-producing herbivores.

Significant public health concerns stemmed from studies on the level of radionucleotide contamination in food including meat, milk, and eggs.

Scientific monitoring was necessary to prevent the contamination of animals and their products from entering the human food chain.

More commonly, hazardous materials are released in disasters. Especially on farms, there may be large amounts of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fuels that are spilled in disasters.

These hazardous materials can be spread over pastures, contaminate animal feed, or directly contact the animals, potentially contaminating animal-based food products. Hazardous materials also present significant animal welfare concerns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for the inspection of livestock and poultry as food for humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects milk products, seafood, and non-animal products.



Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are transmittable between animals and humans.

Although avian flu and the H1N1 virus (swine flu) have become public health concerns in recent years, incidences of zoonoses following disasters have not been a documented problem in the United States since the 1950s. The spread of zoonoses is controlled through our public health and food inspection service.

Nevertheless, more common zoonotic diseases and the means by which they can affect humans warrant concern. In particular, pets can be infected and expose children to zoonotic diseases.

Humans are most likely to be exposed to zoonotic diseases when animal waste contaminates the drinking water supply. This situation can occur in floods and after power failure at water treatment plants.

Water can also become contaminated when hazardous materials are blown or washed into water supplies or when animal manure or dead animals contaminate wells and reservoirs.

The State/Tribal health department is the appropriate agency to consult on issues of zoonotic disease. The State/Tribal health department may call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for support.

Organisms That Cause Zoonotic Diseases

Common organisms that cause zoonotic diseases include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Anthrax
  • Campylobacter (diarrhea)
  • Clostridium botulinum (weakness and collapse)
  • Clostridium perfringens (diarrhea)
  • Coliform bacteria (diarrhea)
  • Cryptosporidium (diarrhea)
  • Giardia (diarrhea)
  • Rabies
  • Ringworm (skin infection)
  • Salmonella (diarrhea)
  • Vector-borne diseases (e.g., Equine Encephalitis)


Dog Bites

Most dogs in the United States are pets and are not a threat to public safety. However, the chances of being bitten by a dog increase with certain factors.

People who have no professional animal-handling experience may put their safety at risk by:

  • Surprising or cornering a dog.
  • Handling an injured or ill animal.
  • Intervening in dog fights.

Although it is often rumored that dogs congregate in packs and become a public nuisance after disasters, few such instances are confirmed. Animals that by nature are gregarious do not automatically become aggressive.

The risks of dog bites relates to the natural territorial behavior of dogs. For example, dogs may want to protect where they live and become aggressive toward unfamiliar persons who approach. After disasters, search and rescue personnel may encounter this situation and should use extreme caution.

Preventing Dog Bites

When disaster responders are faced with a dog that interferes with their work, the best solution is to locate the owner or another animal care provider who knows how to deal with dogs. Animal control personnel and humane groups should be at disaster sites and can help in this situation.

If a dog creates a persistent nuisance and the owner cannot be identified, animal control officers should be contacted to capture the dog.

A dog’s attitude may be indicated by obvious signs of aggression, such as baring teeth and growling, or by signs of friendliness, such as tail wagging with upright ears. However, there are many subtle variations on these signs that may be confused by persons who do not routinely deal with dogs. It is safer for inexperienced disaster personnel to refer dogs to others who are familiar and comfortable with handling them.


What To Do if a Dog Attacks You

If a dog attacks you, the following tactics can reduce the risk of being bitten:

  • Stand still. Running incites hunting and chasing instincts in the dog.
  • Loudly and firmly shout “Sit!” or “Down!” at the dog in a dominant fashion.
  • Put something (e.g., a trash can lid) between you and the dog, or pick up something and pretend to throw it at the dog. Doing so may convince the dog to leave.
  • If you are thrown to the ground, protect your head.

Once you are safe, contact animal control officers and inform them about the stray dog.


If You Are Bitten

Disaster workers who have been bitten by a dog should seek medical advice as soon as possible. If exposure to rabies is a possibility, post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies should be initiated. Rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for disaster personnel.

Persons who are immune compromised should pay special attention if they are bitten by animals, because infections can be more severe in these people. Conditions that may cause immune suppression include chemotherapy treatment, diabetes, HIV infection, and removal of the spleen.


Mental Health

Mental health is a component of public health that is concerned with the psychological impact of disasters on people. Thousands of publications address the psychology of human disaster survivors.

People who are separated from their animals may experience separation anxiety, grief, bereavement, anger, guilt, and psychosomatic symptoms.

They may also fail to evacuate, attempt re-entry, and make irrational decisions about their own health. Keeping animals and their owners together is a way of reducing stress on disaster survivors.


Dealing With Owners Separated From Pets

Dealing with separated owners and their animals can become a predominant issue in large-scale evacuations, because people who want to be reunited with their pets may take steps to do so. Regardless of whether such behavior is appropriate, officials must have a good plan for handling it.

Close cooperation with the animal care community is the best way to plan and respond to these issues. Even in the absence of a formal disaster preparedness plan, local veterinarians and animal control or humane shelter directors can be asked to coordinate evacuations and rescues of animals in ways that are compatible with the procedures of the ICS.

Example: Animal-Owner Separation

Members of the public seeking to be reunited with their pets became a major issue after a train derailment in Wisconsin early in 1996. There was a threat of a large propane explosion, and the entire town was evacuated in great haste. Many owners left their pets behind.

After a few days, the owners became concerned with the safety and well-being of their pets. Several owners risked their lives by entering the secured area at night to rescue their pets.

To prevent this from recurring, a large-scale pet rescue was organized. This included the use of armored vehicles and safety equipment for the public.

If pet owners had been advised to evacuate with their pets, many of these difficulties might have been avoided.


Environmental Concerns

Household pets, service animals, and livestock may escape or be killed in disasters, with negative consequences for the environment:

  • There is potential for decaying carcasses to impact the environment. Carcasses create biologic waste and attract flies and rodents, which can spread disease.
  • There is also potential for groundwater contamination and bad odors.
  • Escaped animals may wander onto land where they may contaminate water supplies, cause a buildup of manure, overgraze sensitive ecosystems, and cause damage to crops.


Carcass Disposal

Animal carcasses should be disposed of as soon as possible to avoid creating a health hazard to animals or humans. A small number of animals will not create a major problem if they can be disposed of by a rendering company. However, the disposal of a large number of animals (e.g., several million chickens or several hundred cattle) requires advance planning.

Certain governmental agencies may restrict disposal methods. Local ordinances should be reviewed, and State/Tribal and Federal health, agricultural, and environmental departments should be contacted prior to carcass disposal. It may be necessary to obtain waivers.

The five common methods of carcass disposal are:

Rendering is the easiest way to dispose of carcasses, especially those of farm animals. Rendering is a process whereby the carcass is cooked at high temperatures and converted into animal feed or fertilizer. Commercial companies perform this service and may, for a fee, pick up the animals. This method can be used if normal transportation methods and utilities are functional and the rendering company has sufficient trucks and personnel to handle the volume.

Burning can be done outside or by using commercial incinerators. Many animal hospitals, humane societies, and diagnostic laboratories have incinerators that can be used given that prior agreements are in place. When burning carcasses outside, it is important to let appropriate governmental officials know ahead of time to assure that no ordinances or laws are broken.

Burial can be done only where local ordinances and the terrain permit. The location selected should be approved in advance by the appropriate environmental government agency. Burial may only be permitted at certain locations. Arrangements may also have to be made for heavy equipment to move animals and dig the graves. A good resource for these supplies is the State/Tribal transportation department and National Guard.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service “Foot and Mouth Disease Emergency Disease Guidelines” and “Hog Cholera Emergency Disease Guidelines” can be consulted for procedures for preparing the outside burn site, burning, and burial.

Composting is used to dispose of large numbers of poultry carcasses. Composting is the mixing by volume of 1 part carcass to 2 parts litter and 1 part straw in alternate layers in a boxed, enclosed area. The method can also be used for larger animals. Whereas poultry can be placed whole in layers, larger animals need to be cut or ground into smaller parts first. The composting is accomplished by the bacteria in the litter and takes about 2 weeks to complete. The completed compost pile is odorless and can be used for fertilizer. Details of this procedure can be obtained from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Carcasses are mixed with fermentable sugar in a metal container. Bacteria from the digestive tract of the carcasses ferment the material. The finished product can then be used for animal feed. Details of this procedure can also be obtained from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The disposal method used depends on:

  • The type of incident.
  • Location of the bodies.
  • Type and number of animals killed.
  • Local ordinances.

Regardless of the method used, carcass disposal should be given top priority. If community services are not interrupted, the usual methods for disposal of animals that die naturally can be used. If community services are disrupted, special arrangements will need to be made to accommodate the method chosen.


How Disasters Compromise Animal Welfare

Any unfamiliar stress on household pets, service animals, and livestock raises potential concern about its well-being. Animal welfare can be compromised in disasters in the following ways:

  • Being left without food and water in secured areas.
  • Prolonged confinement in cages in animal shelters.
  • Exposure to the environment.
  • Lack of appropriate veterinary care.
  • Lack of socialization.
  • Inability to express natural behavior patterns.


Dealing With Animal Welfare Issues

Correcting situations that compromise animal well-being may be impossible or unreasonable in some disasters, especially if the care of humans has not been fully addressed.

However, decisions that imply a lack of need for animal care (or even outright deny care) may incite some members of the public and organized groups to openly criticize emergency management officials. This can lead to poor evaluation of the operation as a whole by the public.

Preventing negative perceptions and the neglect of animal concerns is a major reason why emergency management officials and the animal care community need to work together before and during emergencies and disasters.

People who work with animals daily understand animal well-being and can convey to others that animal concerns are being addressed in an appropriate manner.

Likewise, emergency management officials can give animal care providers information they need depending on the context of an incident. An emergency management partnership is the only way to address both sides of this issue.


Who Is Responsible?

There are some major differences in the laws concerning the well-being of different categories of animals, who owns them, and how they are kept.

For example, the care of research animals is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in some cases by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Responsibilities for Animal Welfare

Agency/Department Responsibility
State Department of Environmental Management Deal with the impact of animal welfare on the environment.
Department of Natural Resources Deal with threats to wildlife.
State Health Departments Deal with water quality and how it relates to animal welfare.
State Veterinarian or Department of Agriculture Deal with concerns about animal welfare.



Click on the links below for additional training related to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and related topics:



Lesson 5: Recovering From a Disaster


During a federally declared disaster, Federal, State, tribal, and local governments work together to manage the emergency.

Emergency assistance funding is based on the concept that each level of government provides assistance only when the next lower level of government is overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster. The exact procedure to obtain Federal or State/Tribal assistance varies by State/Tribe, but this unit describes generally how it is done.



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Explain the importance of conducting thorough and accurate damage assessments.
  • List the major types of disaster relief available to communities, businesses, and individuals.
  • Describe Federal mitigation and preparedness programs.


Assessing Local Damage

When an incident occurs, the community emergency operations plan is put into operation and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) may be activated. The State/Tribal emergency management office is also notified. Local damage assessment personnel compile records of community damages as the first step in filing a request for assistance.

Damage assessment includes:

  • Number of people injured or killed.
  • Damage to structures, infrastructure, and services.


Damage Assessment and Animals

When accounting for the care of animals and their owners, damage assessment also includes:

  • Number of livestock that have been injured or killed.
  • Number of livestock that need cages or fencing.
  • Damage to animal-related businesses, such as veterinary practices, animal shelters, boarding and grooming facilities, and farms.

Photographs and videos of damage can be used effectively for this purpose. Expenditure records related to activation of the EOC, damage assessment, and other operational costs should be compiled in standardized reports.


State/Tribal Assistance

When an incident grows beyond the capability of a local jurisdiction, and responders cannot meet the needs with mutual aid and assistance resources, the local emergency manager contacts the State/Tribe.

Most States/Tribes require the chief executive of the local government to officially request a Governor’s or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive’s declaration of disaster in order to obtain State/Tribal assistance. The local emergency program manager is responsible for local damage assessment and the report to the State/Tribal emergency management office.

The State/Tribe, acting on the information provided to it, will dispatch resources to the disaster area and assist in the response and recovery effort.

The National Guard may be asked to assist with animal care and control issues and animal-related claims investigations. Detailed assessments and specific requests for assistance will receive the most appropriate response.

If the State/Tribe determines that Federal assistance is also required, the director of emergency management of the State/Tribe alerts FEMA. FEMA may also dispatch representatives to the area.

State/Tribal Assistance Activities

States/Tribes provide the majority of the external assistance to communities. The State/Tribe is the gateway to several government programs that help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from incidents. Upon receiving a request for assistance from a local government, immediate State/Tribal response activities may include:

  • Coordinating warnings and public information through the activation of the State’s or Tribe’s public communications strategy and the establishment of a Joint Information Center.
  • Distributing supplies stockpiled to meet the emergency.
  • Providing needed technical assistance and support to meet the response and recovery needs of individuals and households.
  • The Governor or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive suspending existing statutes, rules, ordinances, and orders for the duration of the emergency, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure timely performance of response functions.
  • Implementing State/Tribal donations management plans and coordinating with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.
  • Ordering the evacuation of persons from any portions of the State/Tribe threatened by the incident, giving consideration to the requirements of access and functional needs populations and those with household pets or service animals.
  • Mobilizing resources to meet the requirements of people with access and functional needs, in accordance with the State’s or Tribe’s preexisting plan and in compliance with Federal civil rights laws.
  • Activating elements of the National Guard.

If additional resources are required, the State/Tribe may request assistance from other States/Tribes by using interstate mutual aid and assistance agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).


Federal Assistance

When it is clear that State/Tribal capabilities will be exceeded, the Governor or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive may request Federal assistance. In such cases, the affected local jurisdiction, tribe, State, and the Federal Government will collaborate to provide the necessary assistance. The Federal Government may provide assistance in the form of funding, resources, and critical services.

Once all supporting groups are assembled, the local emergency program manager works with tribal, State, and Federal personnel in an expanded damage assessment. An estimate of the type and extent of Federal disaster assistance will come through this joint assessment.

If warranted, the Governor or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive may ask request a Presidential declaration of emergency or disaster. Damage assessments are an important part of the request.

The emergency manager must provide State/Tribal officials with necessary documentation to support the request for Federal aid. Accurate damage assessment claims must be filed with the appropriate emergency management agency in order to claim against losses suffered by animal care industries.

A request may be formalized in as little as a few days, so the better the local assessment is, the more realistic relief funding will be.

There are two types of Presidential declaration:

  • A Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster makes available all the resources of the Federal Government, including long-term Federal recovery programs.
  • A Presidential Declaration of an Emergency is more limited in scope and without the long-term recovery programs. This type of declaration provides specific assistance to save lives; protect property, public health, and safety; or lessen the threat of future disaster.

In many cases, assistance may be obtained from the Federal Government without a Presidential declaration. Direct assistance can come from various Federal agencies that provide assistance through the emergency or normal programs of Federal agencies, without a Presidential declaration.

Requests for Presidential Declarations

Ordinarily, only a Governor or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive can initiate a request for a Presidential emergency or major disaster declaration. Before making a declaration request, the Governor must activate the State’s or Tribe’s emergency plan and ensure that all appropriate State/Tribal and local actions have been taken or initiated, including:

  • Surveying the affected areas to determine the extent of private and public damage.
  • Conducting joint preliminary damage assessments with FEMA officials to estimate the types and extent of Federal disaster assistance required.
  • Consulting with the FEMA Regional Administrator on Federal disaster assistance eligibility, and advising the FEMA regional office if a Presidential declaration will be requested.

The request is made through the FEMA Regional Administrator and based on a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State/Tribal and affected local governments, and that Federal assistance is necessary. The request must include:

  • Information on the extent and nature of State/Tribal resources that have been or will be used to address the consequences of the disaster.
  • A certification by the Governor or Indian Tribal Government Chief Executive that State/Tribal and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal costs required by the Stafford Act.
  • An estimate of the types and amounts of supplementary Federal assistance required.


What To Expect From Federal Involvement

If the President declares an emergency or major disaster, a Joint Field Office (JFO) will be established as a central location for the coordination of response and recovery efforts by the various entities involved.

A Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) will be assigned to coordinate Federal assistance, and the Governor will appoint a State Coordinating Officer (SCO). In the case of Indian Tribal governments, the Tribal Chief Executive will appoint a Tribal Coordinating Officer (TCO).


FCO Responsibilities

The FCO is responsible for:

  • An initial appraisal of needed assistance.
  • Coordinating the Federal agencies and programs involved in assistance.

The FCO may assist in coordinating the private relief efforts of nongovernmental organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others. This coordination may also include Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs).

The FCO does not coordinate humane groups because they are not part of the official response to disasters. Humane groups act of their own accord and provide assistance to individuals and local governments.


SCO/TCO Responsibilities

The SCO/TCO is the main liaison between the FCO and State/Tribal and local officials and is the main contact for the affected community in filing a claim. The SCO/TCO is responsible for:

  • Serving as the primary representative of the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive within the JFO.
  • Working with the FCO to formulate State/Tribal requirements and set priorities for use of Federal resources provided to the State/Tribe.
  • Ensuring coordination of resources provided to the State/Tribe via mutual aid and assistance compacts.
  • Providing a linkage to local government.
  • Serving in the Unified Coordination Group in the JFO.


Federal Assistance

There are many types of Federal Government aid, including:

  • Federal funding.
  • Federal emergency services.
  • Federal aid in the form of grants, loans, loan guarantees, and technical assistance.

Aid is usually available for mitigation, preparedness programs such as educational efforts, and the costs of response and recovery.


Federal Funding

The Stafford Act authorizes the President to provide financial and other assistance to State and local governments, certain private nonprofit organizations, and individuals to support response, recovery, and mitigation efforts following Presidential emergency or major disaster declarations.

The Stafford Act is triggered by a Presidential declaration of a major disaster or emergency, when an event causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant Federal disaster assistance to supplement the efforts and available resources of States, local governments, and the disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering.


Federal Emergency Services

FEMA provides a wide variety of emergency services in anticipation of, or following, a Presidential declaration. Examples include:

  • Temporary communication facilities.
  • Food, water, mass feeding, and shelter services.
  • Personnel and equipment for law enforcement, medical evacuation, and refugee evacuation.
  • Aerial and mobile search and rescue operations.
  • Temporary public transportation services.


Federal Aid

Federal aid may come in the form of:

  • Grants.
  • Loans and loan guarantees.
  • Technical assistance.


Federal Grants

A Federal grant is financial assistance provided to State, tribal, and local governments and certain types of nongovernmental organizations to support prevention/mitigation, response, and recovery measures. For example, grants may be made available to assist in the repair or replacement of water control facilities or for debris removal.

Grants must be applied for and usually require some type of matching funds from the recipient. Before applying for a grant, make sure your community can afford the matching fund requirement and that it is capable of maintaining the project to completion.

Click on this link for more information about FEMA’s grants and assistance program.[]


Federal Loans and Guarantees

The Federal Government may supply low-interest loans or loan guarantees. Many applications for loans are from businesses affected by a disaster. For example, farmers and ranchers may apply for loans to cover losses from a disaster.

A loan guarantee is simply a guarantee to a local bank or lending institution that a loan will be repaid. For example, if a local business takes out a guaranteed loan and goes bankrupt, the Federal Government is responsible for repaying the unpaid portion of the loan. For this reason, the government is very careful in deciding who qualifies for a guaranteed loan.


Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is usually provided by experts who possess skills that are not available in the local community.

For example, the U.S. Public Health Service or military veterinarians can provide assistance in performing damage assessment to the animal industries. Similarly, an agricultural expert may be sent in to assess crop damage.


Programs for Rebuilding the Community

Loans and grants are available to communities for:

  • Repair and restoration of public and private nonprofit facilities.
  • School construction and equipment.
  • Utilities restoration.
  • Food distribution.

Community disaster loans are also available to provide funds to a local government that has suffered a substantial loss of tax and other revenue from a disaster.


Mitigation and Federal Assistance

One condition for receiving Federal assistance following a Presidential disaster declaration is that recipients must take measures to mitigate the hazards in the area.

To accomplish this, FEMA provides technical assistance and support for State/Tribal and local hazard evaluation and mitigation planning.


Community Health Services

After a Presidential declaration of a major disaster, funds for crisis counseling services become available. FEMA can support training of disaster workers. FEMA can also request that agencies such as the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Defense help with the following tasks:

  • Plan and supervise health programs.
  • Assist and advise in the establishment of programs for the control, treatment, and prevention of disease.
  • Assist in the protection of the food and water supplies.
  • Assist in the supervision and establishment of temporary cemeteries and grave registration.

In addition to health services, assistance may be given in the following forms:

  • Grants are available for:
    • Repair or replacement of health facilities damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.
    • Expansion and improvement of emergency medical services if they are found to be inadequate in times of emergency.
  • Technical assistance and training are available to assist in establishing and managing emergency medical services units.


Programs for Helping Individuals

A variety of aid is available to individuals following the Presidential declaration of a disaster. Some of these are:

  • Loans for single-family homes, including mobile homes.
  • Temporary housing at no cost to those who are displaced.
  • Direct grants to individuals or families to meet disaster-related expenses.

Other services include legal services, unemployment assistance, tax information, educational assistance, emergency food stamps, and loans for refinancing, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of damaged property.


Disaster Recovery Centers

To process individual claims, a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is usually set up as a centralized location for assistance to individuals. DRCs are staffed with Federal, State/Tribal, and local officials and representatives from private relief organizations. The FEMA regional director decides what assistance to offer.

Types of Individual Assistance

  • Temporary housing
  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Unemployment payments
  • Job placement counseling
  • Low-interest loans to individuals, businesses, and farmers
  • Food coupons
  • Individual and family grants
  • Legal services
  • Consumer counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Social Security assistance
  • Veterans assistance


The Application Process

There are two ways to apply for assistance: in person and online.

  • In person: Individual aid applications are available at the DRC. The individual is guided through the application process and given help in selecting likely sources of aid. Counseling is also provided to help the applicant through the post-disaster recovery process.
  • Online: It is also possible to register for assistance online at []


Weather Forecasting and Warning

Perhaps the most common emergency service provided by the Federal Government is the forecast and warning service for all weather-related natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.



Many reconstruction grants following a disaster are used for:

  • Planning.
  • Surveying.
  • Right-of-way acquisition.
  • New construction.
  • Reconstruction.
  • Repair of unsafe bridges.

These grants are intended to mitigate the impact of future disasters.


Fire Suppression

Federal assistance is available for the suppression of any fire on public or privately owned forest or grassland that threatens to become a major disaster.

Grants, research contracts, and technical assistance are also available to prevent fires. This assistance includes programs to improve suppression techniques, building construction techniques, and human behavior in fire situations.


Flood Prevention and Protection

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides insurance against flood-related losses to property owners and renters in communities that have agreed to adopt and enforce wise floodplain management practices.

The NFIP provides maps of flood hazard areas to communities and offers technical assistance in adopting and enforcing required floodplain management ordinances and regulations.


Specialized Services

Specialized services and funds are available from other Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to lessen the effects of floods through structural flood control projects such as dams and levees.



Click on the links below for additional resources:

  • FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Guide [] is a resource for Federal, State/Tribal, local, and non-governmental officials. It contains brief descriptions and contact information for Federal programs that may be able to provide disaster recovery assistance to eligible applicants.
  • [] provides information on how individuals may be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during, and after a disaster. It also enables disaster survivors to complete an online application for assistance.
  • Help After a Disaster [] is a program guide that provides information to help disaster assistance applicants understand FEMA’s disaster assistance program and explains how to apply.



Lesson 6: Developing Community Support


This lesson covers ways to find community support for your disaster preparedness plan involving household pets, service animals, and livestock. It looks at ways to approach the Government, organizations, and the public. The lesson presents examples of public awareness campaign ideas and methods to enlist help from the community.

This lesson also identifies training resources including local, tribal, State, and Federal sources and types of training such as independent study and residential training.



Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Approach government, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and the public with your disaster preparedness plan involving animals.
  • Conduct a public information campaign using brochures and other awareness tools.
  • Solicit help from the community in promoting the plan.
  • Locate training opportunities through local, tribal, State, Federal, nongovernmental organization, and private-sector resources.


Spreading the Word

Once you have completed an EOP, let everyone in the community know about it. This is a good time—when enthusiasm is high—to promote the plan through a public information campaign and within your community’s government.

Use this time to renew contact with agency officials, voluntary groups, and the public. While an annex on the care of animals in a disaster is only a small part of the plan, it provides an opportunity to raise awareness and disaster preparedness.


Whom To Approach

Your ultimate goal is to have a well-informed and fully prepared community. Groups that should know about your plan include:

  • Government.
  • Nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.
  • The public.

Your approach will vary with each interest group.


Approaching Government

The primary audience for the plan is people with responsibilities in community organization and emergency operations. Groups to involve in planning include:

  • The animal control department, which is primarily responsible for stray animals (any animal whose owner cannot be identified).
  • The health department, which deals with any aspect of animal care that may affect human health. This includes oversight of human shelters in disasters.


Approaching Nongovernmental Organizations and the Private Sector

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private-sector groups that have an interest in or responsibility for emergency actions should be targets of your EOP promotion. If you have collaborated with these groups throughout the plan development stage, it will be much easier to approach them and get their support at this point. They can provide people willing to disseminate information and add credibility to the final plan. Examples of groups to involve include:

  • Veterinary practices.
  • Animal shelters.
  • Businesses that cater to the animal care community.
  • American Red Cross.


Training Sessions for Involved Groups

The most effective way to get people involved with the plan is to hold training sessions with various officials, departmental staff, and individuals from the private sector that have defined roles in the plan.

The objective of these training sessions is to review with officials how they and their organization fit into the overall plan.

Below are guidelines for training:

  • Provide a broad overview of the plan.
  • Let each individual and each organization’s representative know their specific duties and responsibilities in times of emergencies or disasters.
  • Meet personally with key individuals within your community’s organizational structure. Do not just send out a memorandum informing them of their responsibilities, because memos are often lost or put aside.
  • Do send out a memorandum after the meeting to confirm what must be done, acknowledge the representatives’ input, and reinforce their commitment.


What Information To Share

The information to be shared will vary depending on what type of group the trainees represent, their role in the plan, and their stated interest in the plan.

Volunteer leaders should be provided with an overview of anticipated emergency operations in the basic plan, though their primary concern will be the annex in which they have a specific role.


Approaching the Public

Though the general public may not be interested in the details of the plan, they should be informed when it is completed.

The public should know that a plan exists and that its purpose is to help officials and citizens respond to disasters. Their primary concern will be, “what should we do?”


What the Public Wants To Know

The animal-owning public will be especially interested in a plan that addresses the care of animals. After all, most people think of their pets as family members.

Discussing the care of animals in disasters also provides a great opportunity to introduce basic human disaster preparedness. People will probably be most interested in information about warning, evacuation, and public and animal welfare (food, shelter, etc.).

Citizens should know how to plan their response and be confident in their plan. You can inform the public about the community’s plan through the organizations you have worked with or by reviewing previous disasters that have affected your community.

By emphasizing the importance of community preparedness and awareness, the citizen response to a disaster can be greatly enhanced.


Informing the Public

The more informed your community is as a whole, the better your plan will work in time of emergency. There are many ways to inform the public of community plans regarding animals and their owners and to encourage individual plan development. For example, you can disseminate information through:

  • Radio and television broadcasts.
  • Local newspaper articles.
  • Speaking to local community groups.
  • The Internet and online social media.
  • Printing and distributing brochures.


Using Local Media

Radio and television stations can broadcast public service announcements. Radio announcements are easy to prepare because they do not require visuals.

You could also request that your local newspaper run a series of articles about the emergency operations plan. Such articles should identify hazards specific to your community and reveal how your plan addresses them.


Speaking to Local Community Groups

Another way of getting the word out is to speak to local community groups such as:

  • Parent-teacher associations (PTAs).
  • Chamber of Commerce.
  • Board of Realtors.
  • Animal interest groups.

Do not pass up the opportunity to speak to any group.


Internet and Online Social Media

Your emergency management Web site is a good place to post information related to animals in disasters, shelter locations, and other information. Below are other ways to use the Internet:

  • Ask local humane organizations to place a link to your Web site on their site.
  • Set up a social media page (e.g., on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube) dedicated to animals in disasters, where residents can post entries about animal-related issues, lost and found, needs, and resources.
  • Create a blog related to animals in disasters.
  • Send announcements to interested groups by email.


Printing and Distributing Brochures

If possible, print a brochure describing your plan. A local printer may print brochures at no cost, or a local business may be willing to underwrite the cost in return for a sponsorship notice (e.g., “This brochure sponsored by XYZ Company”) in the brochure. Ideas for distributing your brochure include:

  • Distributing brochures to animal-related businesses such as veterinarians, animal shelters, pet and feed stores, and boarding and grooming facilities.
  • Asking a tax collection agency or a public utility if you can insert the brochure in their mailings. Some telephone directories include disaster preparedness information as well.
  • Handing out brochures at community meetings, or asking others to do so.


An Example Disaster Awareness Campaign

Take every opportunity to let the public know what is expected of them in times of emergency. The completion of the plan is one such opportunity.

You can provide the public with information about the plan basics, including provisions for warning, evacuation routes, and other efforts to assure their safety.

Also include information about shutting off home utilities, food and water storage, and other survival hints.


Timing Your Campaign

Don’t wait until a disaster strikes before you tell people what to do. Mitigating disasters and getting people and animals out of harm’s way is the most effective method of preventing lost lives or property damage in disasters. Be prepared!

Remember that people are more likely to care for others, such as their children, parents, grandparents, household pets, service animals, and livestock, than they are to care for themselves. Use your animal care plan to enhance overall community disaster preparedness.


Community Help With Your Plan

Informing a community about an EOP is a big job. Attempting to do it alone could result in less than effective public awareness about the plan you spent so much time and effort developing.

To give your plan the best chance for success, consider enlisting help in promoting your plan from organizations within your community, such as:

  • City departments.
  • Community volunteers.
  • Private sector.

Contacting these community organizations is also a good way to get assistance in maintaining a list of emergency contacts that is as complete and up to date as possible.


Helping Animals Is Helping People

It is important to stress that the care of household pets, service animals, and livestock does not take precedence over the care of people. To facilitate care for people and animals, emergency management and the animal care community should enter into partnerships in the planning stage. Having done this, it is more likely that issues of importance to both groups will be addressed during a disaster.

In addition, it allows the most qualified or experienced individuals to deal with pertinent issues for the respective groups and speak to the public about them.

To avoid misunderstanding the priorities, issues relevant to the care of people should always be reported first.


City Departments

Many emergency management offices operate on a limited budget and may not have paid employees available to help.

Look into the possibility of using paid personnel from other departments to help with some of the work. In some jurisdictions, certain departments have slow seasons and personnel could be assigned to help you on a part-time basis.

Someone who owns animals and whose supervisor will approve of a temporary reassignment could be an enthusiastic helper.


Community Volunteers

Most successful emergency program managers get volunteer help from the community. Take advantage of these resources.

A good place to begin is by asking to present your program to citizen groups and animal-related businesses in the private sector. See if you can get them to help with the development, maintenance, or implementation of your plan.

At a minimum, get a personal information sheet from each member so that you can see what special talents, abilities, or equipment they may contribute in a disaster.


Sources of Volunteer Help

Some of the best sources of volunteer help are senior citizen groups and young adult groups.

Many retired citizens are extremely dedicated and hard workers. Importantly, most of them are available during normal working hours and would not have other responsibilities during an actual emergency event.

Senior citizens can be used to take surveys, conduct interviews, and run routine office operations.

Young adult groups, such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America, Pony Clubs, Explorer Scouts, or religious groups can also be used as volunteers. In some States, there is a minimum age requirement at which volunteers can be insured to work in disasters.

Don’t overlook the local media in helping to locate volunteers. For example, local newspapers could print a resource questionnaire for people to complete and mail back.


Public Affairs and Improved Emergency Response

Responding to the media and the general public during and after an emergency is just one public affairs responsibility of the emergency manager.

Many emergency workers have found that in a disaster, people are likely to pay attention to messages concerning animals. Therefore, this is an important way to communicate information that will be helpful to people and animals.

Because emergency management is concerned with protecting lives and property, it is the responsibility of the emergency manager to provide the public with safety information before a disaster occurs.

Awareness campaigns, sponsored by community groups, local government officials, and area business and industry, are perhaps the best way to fulfill this responsibility of emergency management.


What Awareness Campaigns Accomplish

Awareness campaigns:

  • Address hazards concerning your area.
  • Provide a public education vehicle for communities.
  • Teach and change the behavior patterns of citizens in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from any disaster or emergency.


Other Advantages of Awareness Campaigns

In addition to helping the citizens of the community, a well-planned public awareness campaign has other advantages:

  • It expands the emergency manager’s working relationship with the community.
  • It helps develop alliances between the manager and the local media.
  • It increases public knowledge about the emergency management organization and the services that it has to offer.


Information Resources

Kits, handbooks, and other materials on preparing for emergencies are available from FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other sources.

Information on planning for pets in emergencies is also available online from humane organizations, animal interest groups, and government Web sites such as [] and Lessons Learned Information Sharing [].

Brochures are also available on the care of animals in disasters from such sources as:

  • Animal shelters and humane organizations.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • Local veterinarians.

Emergency managers can distribute pamphlets to stimulate community groups. Choose several volunteers to take the lead and chair a committee, such as an official from the mayor’s office, a newspaper publisher, or a TV station manager. Involving community leaders not only makes your job easier, but also expands resources for getting the job done.


Public Affairs Functions

Awareness campaigns help the emergency manager and animal care industry grow within their community. There are additional public affairs functions that can be used to build a strong emergency program. They include working with:

  • Community groups.
  • Local media.
  • The private sector.

While it is recognized that your priorities lie with the emergency management programs and plans, a public affairs plan can assist in increasing understanding of emergency management’s importance.


Ideas for Working With Community Groups

Here are a few ideas for how you might work with community groups to promote your emergency operations plan and public awareness of it:

  • Deliver speeches or presentations to civic groups, local humane groups, dog training classes, pet stores, horse clubs, and farmers’ associations.
  • Get emergency managers, veterinarians, humane shelter workers, and county extension educators to work together on presentations.
  • Offer to make presentations at local elementary and high schools. Reaching young people is important and often what is learned through these sessions can save a life later.
  • Work with Scout leaders to initiate work among both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts toward an emergency management badge.


Ideas for Working With Local Media

Develop personal relationships with the local media. Here are some ideas for working with them:

  • Deliver press releases personally to the reporters who will actually tell the story.
  • Invite the media to participate in exercises, either as players or evaluators. This will help reporters learn more about the importance of emergency management.
  • Cable networks provide airtime for local public services. Develop an emergency program to increase your community’s safety knowledge and get more support for your programs.
  • Hold monthly or quarterly breakfasts with the local media.
  • Hold open houses at the Emergency Operations Center to expose the public to just what an emergency manager does. Get local media to announce and cover these events.
  • Call press conferences to announce initiatives and comment on ongoing activities or project progress.


Ideas for Working With the Private Sector

Work with the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and professional and trade organizations to distribute posters, set up exhibits, conduct presentations, and participate in other activities during high-hazard seasons.

In all communications, be sure that you make available a phone number that interested volunteers can call to become more active in disaster programs.



In disaster preparedness training, it should be assumed that emergency management personnel are familiar with their duties and responsibilities and that animal care providers are competent to deal with animal-related issues. You can safely assume that:

  • Veterinarians are familiar with most veterinary emergencies and how to treat them.
  • Animal control and humane shelter workers are familiar with capture and rescue of animals, as well as housing and feeding needs.
  • County extension educators are familiar with animal husbandry, community resources, and financial issues.


Sharing Expertise

The expertise of each person should be shared during training. This gives others an opportunity to learn from their peers.

It should also be recognized that it might not be necessary for individuals to be trained in areas where they already have expertise.

Relying on and respecting the expertise of others is the best way to facilitate plan development and implementation.


Local Training Opportunities

Often there are local training opportunities for emergency program managers and others interested in learning more about emergency management.

For example, to improve your understanding of the emergency response phase, you can actively participate in or observe the training programs or exercises of your fire or police department.

Training should be seen as part of the planning process as it allows the responders to get to know each other and practice working as a team.

Other potential local training opportunities include:

  • Classes offered by community colleges or the adult evening classes at high schools on basic management principles, budgeting, and financial planning.
  • Programs in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) run by organizations such as the American Red Cross (ARC).
  • Disaster services training conducted by the ARC in areas such as damage assessment or sheltering operations.
  • Educational seminars put on by local veterinarians and humane groups.
  • County extension guidance on how the community’s economic issues relate to animals.

There are often private-sector training opportunities for emergency program managers.

For example, a local chemical plant may conduct in-house training programs in hazardous materials management. If in your hazards analysis you find companies dealing with hazardous materials, check to see if they have training programs for their staff.

Ask to be included in this training. Most companies would be happy to have you as a participant or observer.


State Training Opportunities

State training programs in emergency management are often the most accessible. However, the Federal Government, many counties, and some municipalities also offer training.

Most State training officers coordinate training and educational programs for emergency program managers and other interested citizens. Classroom instruction is provided in the areas of emergency management, preparedness planning, emergency operations, and career development.

Participation in these programs may be open to anyone who holds an emergency operations position.

Even if you are unable to participate in programs offered by your State, the State training officer is a valuable resource. The training officer can help you define your training needs or suggest other training resources that may be of value to you.

Some States have emergency operations simulation training that involves staging a mock emergency to test your preparedness plan. In the process, you see if the plan is executed properly. Most of all, you learn if the plan meets the demands of the simulated emergency. It is better to find out where the plan needs improvement in a simulation than in an actual emergency.

You may also want to take a course that will teach you how to conduct your own exercises.


Federal Training Opportunities

FEMA provides many opportunities for continuing education, both as independent study courses and through classroom instruction. Courses are offered on a wide variety of topics, in such areas as:

  • Preparedness.
  • Mitigation and Technology.
  • Professional Development.
  • Disaster Operations and Recovery.
  • Integrated Emergency Management.
  • Exercise Development.
  • Information Management and Technology.
  • Environment and Historic Preservation.
  • Employee Development.

The FEMA regional training and education officer can tell you what programs are available for you and your emergency management and operations staff.


Independent Study Courses

Many independent study courses, in printed or online format, are available that relate to dealing with disasters. Below are just a few examples of courses available from FEMA’s Independent Study Program:

  • IS-10.a: Animals in Disaster: Awareness and Preparedness
  • IS-22: Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
  • IS-100.a: Introduction to Incident Command System
  • IS-111: Livestock in Disasters
  • IS-700.a: National Incident Management System (NIMS): An Introduction

Check local, tribal, State, and Federal Web sites to learn more.

Click this link to visit FEMA’s Independent Study Program. []


Residential and Field Training

Residential and field training provided by FEMA emphasizes performance-based exercises.

This type of training is highlighted by the Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC), in which personnel from all departments and agencies in a community practice policymaking, planning, and emergency operations.

Integrated Emergency Management Course

The Integrated Emergency Management Course is a 4½-day, exercise-based, training activity that places Emergency Operations Center (EOC) personnel under realistic crisis situations within a structured learning environment.

IEMC builds awareness and skills needed to develop and implement policies, plans, and procedures in an EOC to protect life and property through applications of sound emergency management principles in all phases of emergency management. Topics include:

  • All-hazards preparation and response
  • All-hazards recovery and mitigation
  • Hurricane preparedness and response
  • Earthquake preparedness and response
  • Homeland security preparedness and response
  • Hazardous materials preparedness and response
  • Community services
  • State role in National Response Framework (NRF)
  • EOC-incident management team interface

Elected and appointed officials are an important audience to an IEMC. In addition, mid-level management, supervisory, and operations personnel from various disciplines benefit from the experience. The IEMC is also designed for personnel who fill specific emergency support positions within their community. This course is recommended for public health services, veterinarians, and related animal care providers.


Implementing Training Programs

Often the best training programs for incident management are those that are developed by the people who will be leaders in the event of a disaster. The principles of effective training are:

  • Promote the idea that the course would be useful to the public.
  • Instruct members of the public by providing information and incentives for study.
  • Use the trained public as a resource for further information and the education of others.

Once you have completed this course on animals in disaster, for instance, you should feel comfortable teaching it to others. The best way to learn is to teach, and teaching emergency management is rewarding and helpful to others.


Conducting Training and Education

Training and education can be conducted through:

  • Individual instruction.
  • Meetings.
  • Prepackaged programs.
  • Seminars.
  • Exercises.

Being an educator or trainer does not mean that you are standing in front of a class and giving a lecture. In your daily routine as an emergency program manager, you will often be educating someone about emergency management or training them to perform some skill.



Click on the links below to access additional resources: