South Island Emergency Pets Team in need of volunteers


WATCH: Recent earthquakes have brought to mind a concern for pet owners. Who would take care of your companion if you ever had to evacuate? A group on the South Island is hoping to do just that. But as Luisa Alvarez tells us, they say they need more volunteers. 

January’s tsunami scare was a wake-up call to start having conversations about emergency preparedness.

And Saturday night’s mild earthquake acted as yet another reminder of what we already know.

“We are in an earthquake zone,” said South Island Pets Team volunteer Stephanie Cambrey.

So the question now is what is in place to make sure your pets are protected?

Cambrey says nothing, at least in this province.

“There are no laws in B.C. right now protecting families that have pets in a time of an emergency, so if you had to evacuate your home and you had to take your animals with you, there’s really nowhere for them to go except for the local shelters.”

Luckily here on the Island, there’s the volunteer-run South Island Pets team which works in conjunction with the local Emergency Social Services teams making sure your furry friends would be in good hands.

“Our members set the room up and the animals are provided a secure safe place to be while their family members are being cared for in the reception centre for up to 72 hours,” Cambrey said.

Everything your pet needs would be provided. Cambrey recommends families to have a grab and go kit ready.

“You want to have the essentials for both you and your pet in that time of an emergency that you could just quickly grab out of a closet or by your front door and head out to your evacuation centre,” she added.

The group started in 2012 but remains small with less than 10 volunteers.

As conversations are being had about what to do in an emergency, they’re hoping to grow.

“We don’t require any huge commitment because we are on a call out basis and that’s really when our teams are in action. The rest of the time is learning and training and minor fundraising events,” Cambrey says.

Although Cambrey says their small numbers don’t interfere with providing care, it’s more about improving the quality.

“The E.S.S teams will always provide us with people if need be but we want to make sure those who are with the team are also specifically trained with pet first aid training. We work with dog trainers and reptile specialists so we have basic knowledge of how to properly care for these pets in 72 hours,” said Cambrey.

The group meets on the first Saturday of every month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. but attending every meeting is not mandatory.

For more information about joining the South Island Pets team, you can go to their website or Facebook page.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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