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St. Louis County acquires ‘Pet Disaster Relief’ trailer

BALLWIN, Mo. - It's got four wheels and it's designed to help our four-legged friends.

“Well, it's an animal shelter trailer,” says Mark Diedrich, Director Emergency Management St. Louis County.  “In the event we have some sort of disaster ... we would be able to co-locate a people shelter next to an animal shelter.  That way, when folks have to leave their home, they can take their pets with them and be nearby them at the shelter.”

The Red Cross runs the emergency shelters in the St. Louis metropolitan region. But this AKC Pet Disaster Relief Trailer would help put pets and people back together in the first 72-hours after a disaster is declared.

“We actually have a printer so people can print out information,” says Diedrich.  “There's actually some digital cameras so people can take your picture with your pet so that after the disasters over you can reunite with your pet.”

The $22,000 trailer is made possible by donations from Three Rivers Kennel Club, the North Arkansas Kennel Club, the Edwardsville Illinois Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever Club, and AKC Reunite.

But it was Hurricane Katrina and the devastation in New Orleans in August 2005 that sparked the creation of some 60 trailers like this to be placed around the country.

“After Katrina, so many people didn't leave their home cause they didn't want to leave their pets behind,” says Diedrich.  “Or even almost as tragic is people got separated from their pets.  So this way you can stay with your pet and know where your pet is the whole time, so after the disaster is over you can go back home with your pet.”

And should a natural disaster strike and an emergency situation that warrants leaving your home, your furry best friend will come too thanks to a trailer like this.

“'We've learned over the years, a lot of people will not leave if they can't take their pet with them,” says Diedrich.  “They're going to stay in harm's way if they can't take a pet to a shelter.”