Organizations working to bring animals from the Hurricane Dorian-devastated Bahamas are performing a valuable lifesaving service. However, there are legal and disease control issues some may not be familiar with but need to know.
The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida has prepared a document outlining our recommended guidelines as well as provide resources to assist in successful relocations. Those resources include our shelter consultation request form and the availability of Dr. Cynda Crawford to provide consultation to shelters bringing in animals from Hurricane Dorian.
Based on our experiences working with in-shelter and community animals in the Bahamas, there is a substantial risk for contagious infectious diseases such as distemper, parvo, and panleukopenia in dogs and cats in the islands. The prevalence of these diseases is far higher than in the U.S. In addition, the flooding conditions can contribute to spread of Giardia and Tritrichomonas intestinal infections. Receiving shelters and rescue groups should take special precautions to prevent transmission of these diseases to other dogs and cats in their care.
In addition to disease control guidance, we provide recommendations for safely housing the Bahamian animals in your facility or foster while readying them for placement in a new home. You can find the document here:
UF Recommendations for Shelters and Rescue Groups Receiving Animals from the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian
In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is providing the following guidance to all individuals who are evacuating pets from areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian and wish to enter the continental United States or territories. At the federal level, APHIS is waiving health certificates for dogs and cats from Abaco and Grand Bahama only. At the state level, Florida is also waiving, however this does not necessarily apply to other states. That guidance is available here:
USDA APHIS Guidance for Pet Evacuations (to include cats, dogs and pet birds) to the United States due to Hurricane Dorian