Trailers stocked with food, medical supplies and animal crates will be rolling out for the first time on Long Island and New York City to help keep displaced families and their pets together when natural disasters such as superstorm Sandy strike.
Pat Cruz of the Long Island Ladies Kennel Club, which donated the $22,000 trailer, said: "When there is a disaster like Sandy or even a house fire, families and their pets go to the fire department or local police because they don't know where to go."
The trailers are part of a nationwide initiative by the American Kennel Club and the American Red Cross. There are 16 pet disaster relief trailers being used across the county.
The Long Island Ladies Kennel Club raised the money for the trailer at their annual dog shows across the Island. "This is our way of giving back," Cruz said.
The trailers will assist all household pets, said Kelly McKinney, Red Cross chief disaster officer of the Greater New York Region, which includes Long Island.
"We have seen time and time again families refusing to evacuate because they don't want to leave their pets behind," McKinney said. "This gift allows us to give those families that additional peace of mind that their pets will be provided for and be nearby."
McKinney said that on Long Island the trailer will be parked near shelter locations so owners can get food and supplies for their pets.
"This was all sparked from 9/11 when in the city we were going to apartments to rescue dogs, cats and other pets left behind," McKinney said. The New York City trailer was donated by the American Kennel Club.
Cruz said the trailers would have come in handy during Sandy. "My cousin who was in Freeport and had water up into the main floor did not want to leave behind his golden retriever Barney." She said he and Barney finally evacuated in a boat and went to the fire department.
In New York City, evacuating pet owners can bring their animals on trains and buses but they must be muzzled, leashed or placed in carriers. The trailers will be housed at the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management and at the New York City Office of Emergency Management.