Mobile Emergency Pet Shelter Unveiled in Arlington

Armen Hareyan's picture

Arlington County Government's newest disaster preparedness trailer -- an emergency shelter on wheels - is designed to ensure that pets, too, have a place to go when evacuations are necessary.

Stocked with food, animal crates, litter pans, identification bands, dishes for food and water, and cleaning supplies, the 20-foot trailer -- the first of its kind in Northern Virginia -- has everything needed to keep pets safe.

Arlington County used $20,000 in grant funds from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase and supply the trailer. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington unveiled the trailer today, and will operate it for the County in emergencies.

"The partnership that we've created with the Animal Welfare League on this project ensures that Arlington will be able to bring together the best of emergency management and the best of pet care to make sure that we can shelter all family members - even if they have four legs - in the event of an emergency," said Robert Griffin, Director of Arlington's Office of Emergency Management (OEM).


Trailer is Response to Hurricane Katrina

"After Hurricane Katrina it became clear to everyone that the residents of Arlington County needed a place to shelter their pets in the event of a disaster," said Kay Speerstra, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare League. "The League learned about the trailer idea at a national conference on disaster planning held by the Humane Society of the United States and decided it was just what the County needed," Speerstra said. "Over 60% of American households have at least one pet, so it's important to have a plan that includes them," she said.

The trailer will remain parked at the League's shelter. In an emergency, the Office of Emergency Management will tap the League to set up a temporary pet shelter at a selected location. The League will tow the trailer to the chosen site and League staff and volunteers will set up and operate the shelter.


Arlington funded the trailer from a $217,000 Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative 5D Grant awarded to the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in 2005 for emergency sheltering. Part of the grant proposal included shelter for residents' pets.

The Animal Welfare League provides temporary care and refuge for homeless and suffering animals, places animals in suitable homes, provides animal control services to Arlington County, educates the public, and provides a wide variety of community services.