Expand the Safety Net for Animal Victims of Disaster

St. Bernard ASPCA
Photo courtesy of ASPCA.

As you may be aware, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Disaster Philanthropy Playbook—a much-needed and unique resource within the field of philanthropy—is preparing funders to respond with better information and greater coordination when disaster strikes the communities they serve. What you may not know is that among the Playbook’s many valuable offerings is an eye-opening section on the interdependence between human and animal welfare in disasters, which illuminates the fact that people often put their pets’ safety before their own.
This section provides funders with a set of recommendations and resources to help them more effectively address the needs of companion animals and their human caregivers facing potential or actual disasters. “Pet owners are less likely to evacuate their homes in the face of imminent danger because they refuse to leave their pets behind, putting themselves, their pets, and first-responders in danger,” the Playbook states. “Emergency preparedness plans must incorporate evacuation, transportation, and sheltering options for household pets, outdoor pets, and farm animals in order to ensure the health and safety of both pet owners and animals.”
As organizations intimately familiar with the heightened vulnerability of animals at times of disaster, the ASPCA, Petco Foundation, Petfinder Foundation, and Animal Assistance Foundation collectively offer financial relief for animal welfare groups, government agencies, and even human-services providers whose constituencies include pet owners in disaster-stricken communities. As I discussed in my previous CDP blog post, these organizations have recently come together to form a funding collaborative aimed at streamlining the grant application process, providing a platform for information-sharing, and facilitating a faster, coordinated response from participating funders. For specific disasters, grant applicants have the option to request support from multiple funders with just one grant application rather than approaching participating funders individually. This system is designed to conserve resources among both grantmakers and grantseekers in times of crisis so that assistance can be dispatched with maximum efficiency.
Join the Animal Disaster Funding Collaborative
We are now actively recruiting new members to join this funding collaborative. An expanded joint funding base can amplify grant impact, avoid duplicative support, and fill service gaps, channeling precious time and funds—which are especially scarce during disasters—where they can do the most good. The funding collaborative’s flexible structure preserves the autonomy of each participating grantmaker. Particular disasters for which the shared application portal is available will be determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the individual participants, who can opt in or out of using it as they see fit. While applications submitted through the centralized portal will be reviewed by all participating funders, each funder who provides support will make its own grant to the applying organization and will issue its own grant contract and reporting requirements.
In addition to our current participants, we invite other grantmakers, including private and community foundations, to join this effort at a regional or national level. Along with animal welfare funders, we also welcome the participation of grantmakers whose giving focus lies outside of animal welfare. For more information, please visit AnimalDisasterFunding.org.

Claire Sterling

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