Awash in Chemicals & Contaminants – An Effective Method of Animal Decontamination Following Disasters

Soric S, Belanger MP, Wittnich C

Oceanographic Environmental Research Society, 12 Burton Avenue, Barrie, Ontario, Canada L4N 2R2

Following Hurricane Katrina, temporary emergency animal intake facilities throughout Louisiana and Mississippi were established to provide medical treatment and shelter for the displaced, lost, and injured animals affected by the storm. 

Animals would arrive at these facilities often contaminated with sewage, chemicals and other toxins, debris, and parasites. Under FEMA and the HSUS, members of the OERS Disaster Response Division were deployed to Gulfport, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina where the team, among other activities, implemented a decontamination protocol for incoming animals before admittance into the animal intake facility.

This decontamination protocol proved extremely effective in combating the spread of contaminants and disease vectors through the facility.  The protocols for animal intake, washing and handling of these animals, and issues of both animal and worker safety will be discussed. Details on the solutions used for washing and the antiviral, bacterial and parasite controls used will be provided. Minimal resources were required to implement the protocol, which is especially important during disaster situations where local resources might be limited at best.  In addition, the straightforward design allowed new volunteers to be quickly trained in its methods.

Establishing an animal decontamination protocol that is simple, fast yet effective is crucial during emergency situations in order to ensure that all animals arriving at an intake and housing facility do not pose a health risk to the other animals as well as to the attending workers.

Presented as a poster at the Caring for Crisis Meeting 2007