The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs has many faces, but one very important one is disaster relief.
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 with devastating affects for people and animals. Mrs. Diane Albers, President of FAKC stepped in and formed the first organized disaster animal relief team. The day after the storm struck she arrived in Miami with a convoy of eighteen wheelers filled with food, water, ice, medical supplies and equipment. She established a free veterinary clinic in south Miami which was funded by contributions from dog clubs and individuals from around the world. This clinic remained open for almost two years and a large percentage of the animals which survived the storm and its aftermath were rescued by this unit. This effort was before the popularity of microchips for identification. Each owner-less animal was photographed, described and documented as to the location it was found. These animals were evacuated from the disaster area and relocated to foster homes and their movements precisely recorded so that they could be easily and quickly reunited with any owner who came looking for them.
Diane was a pioneer for this sort of animal rescue. During the years since Hurricane Andrew she has set up veterinary services and triage units for devastated areas suffering from the aftermath of natural disasters that have plagued Florida. From brush-fires, floods, tornadoes, topical storms and hurricanes, FAKC has answered the calls for help. Her efforts fed every animal that came into the temporary shelters, from dogs and cats, to the bigger exotic cats, as well as livestock and birds. Her network of volunteers will continue to be a major player in times of disaster and rescue across our state.
Disaster relief has many facets. There are hundreds of man hours logged before and after a natural disaster. We collect donations in the form of money, food, water, medical supplies and the general supplies needed to care for the animals.
What disaster relief includes:
• Coordinate volunteers to care for and prepare animals for evacuation.
• provide vet care and medications.
• provide food, water and shelter for animals and volunteers.
• foster animals and reunite them with their OWNERS at all costs.
• Purchase/charter planes for the transport of supplies and animals in and out of disaster areas.
Mrs. Albers passed away Dec 20, 2008 and FAKC will continue disaster relief with the fine traditions and examples that she laid in place.
Should a natural disaster occur in the future, FAKC will step forward to provide animal rescue and relief just as Mrs. Albers would have. We have had a great mentor to teach us and will honor her unprecedented work in this field by carrying on in times of need. FAKC is 100% donation driven and supported by the generosity of the state's kennel clubs and their members who have made this possible in the past. We hope to thrive in 2009.
Submitted by Cassie Hinton