Dec 09, 2010 10:16AM
● By Style
Photos courtesy of Noah’s Wish.
Natural disaster provides a window into the human experience.
How many times in the midst of calamity have we marveled in disbelief while watching entire communities mobilize with little more than grit? But who cares for displaced animals when the odds are longest? Locally, this responsibility belongs to Noah’s Wish, a non-profit organization based in El Dorado Hills that provides disaster response to animals.
Founded in 2002 after the need for a professionally organized national disaster response program for animals was identified, Noah’s Wish has improved and expanded upon efforts that existed before its formation. “Historically, attempts to help animals and their owners during disaster situations have been fragmented and gravely inadequate,” explains Donna Ganguet, the nonprofit’s chief operating officer. “The Noah’s Wish mission is straightforward: To save animals during disasters with rescue and recovery services, while mitigating their impact through educational outreach programs.”
Unlike the majority of like-minded national organizations, the priority focus of Noah’s Wish – to save the lives of animals during natural disasters – sets it apart. All resources are directed to preventing the suffering and death of animals when tragedy occurs, reuniting pets with their owners or finding placement for them in a caring home. A small core staff operates Noah’s Wish, services of which are provided free to victims of disaster and their animals, animal organizations and emergency management agencies. A growing base of 1,400 committed volunteers trained in disaster mobilization and response augment these efforts.
Although Noah’s Wish has responded to many local disasters, including the Angora Fire in Lake Tahoe and the Butte County Lightning Complex fires, Hurricane Katrina brought it to national prominence. Just 72 hours after the storm devastated the Gulf Coast, Noah’s Wish erected a temporary shelter in Slidell. There, volunteers logged more than 41,500 hours over three months to save and care for 1,974 animals – among them cats, dogs, birds and exotics. More remarkable is that every one of these creatures was reunited with its owner (651 were reclaimed), placed into foster care, or adopted. “Pet owners in Slidell had the best chance of finding their pets, thanks to the time, manpower and resources invested by Noah’s Wish,” shares Slidell Animal Control Assistant Director Damian Anti.
The happy by-product of a massive animal rescue effort is efficiency. By providing disaster victims with quality care for their pets, Noah’s Wish not only grants them emotional security, but also more time and energy to address a myriad of issues related to natural disaster.
Noah’s Wish is aggressively promoting community disaster planning and preparedness training through its campaign, “Be Prepared, Not Scared,” a one-day workshop where staff from the organization meets with local emergency planners and responders to outline ways to enable the care of animals should disaster strike. “Trained communities are empowered to manage their own rescue and sheltering needs.”
Noah’s Wish offers training sessions throughout the U.S. and Canada every spring. Training for 2011 will take place in Walnut Creek on March 5 & 6. For more information, call 916-939-9474 or visit noahswish.info.