No Pet Left Behind
The late Jack Colley, Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, coined the phrase, “No pet left behind”, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for a reason: Pets are an important part of our lives. As Texas and Louisiana learned in the past, many people will not evacuate without their companion animals – thus creating dangerous and expensive search and rescue situations.
And, in addition to the humanitarian concerns, animals left to suffer after a devastating event are costly to rescue, handle or dispose of. Texas adopted the best answer to an emotional and pervasive problem: Evacuate animals along with humans. In accepting the responsibility to evacuate animals, however, Texas had to also accept the responsibility to account for those animals while in shelter. Evacuees needed assurance that their pets would not be given to another person inadvertently and that the pet’s location could be quickly and easily determined at any time.
The State of Texas turned to Radiant RFID, their RFID provider and trusted partner in the Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TxETN), for pet tracking solutions. Radiant, with input from key animal management agencies such as the Texas Animal Health Commission and PetsAmerica, designed the Radiant Pet Tracker system to work in conjunction with TxETN. South Carolina has also adopted Pet Tracker as part of its evacuation and disaster management system.
Here is how Pet Tracker works:
- An evacuee is enrolled in the Radiant All Hazard Response Network system with a unique wristband.
- Each pet that the evacuee brings is also enrolled with a unique tag, and the entire family – humans and pets – are grouped together in the system.
- When the pet is taken to the pet shelter, its tag is scanned so that the database records its pet shelter location.
- When the owner/evacuee comes to the pet shelter to visit the animal, the evacuee’s wristband is scanned, which shows all animals associated with that evacuee
- The animal’s tag is then scanned to “check out” the animal to the owner/evacuee and “check in” the animal when it is returned – thus creating a chain of custody for the animal.
RFID is an important component of the system because it enables pet shelter workers to quickly locate the individual animal without even opening the cage door. It also shortens the time involved in finding one pet among potentially thousands through RFID-locating capability.
Through Pet Tracker, four important benefits are achieved:
- Pet / evacuee association to help prevent loss or theft of animals
- Location history to locate an animal and allow unification of the animal with its family
- “Hands-free” pet handling through RFID, which does not require touching the animal to read a hand-written tag or scan a barcode
- Pet locating capability through RFID