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K-State Today

August 22, 2011

Pets, natural disasters subject of free K-State seminar

By Nancy Peterson

Sixty-two percent — or nearly two-thirds — of U.S. households have an animal.

But while pets are part of the family, they’re not always part of the family’s emergency management plan, said Ronnie Elmore, associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.

When disaster strikes, a beloved pet can easily become separated from its family, said Elmore, who is teaming with animal scientists, veterinary medical, family life professionals, extension educators, emergency management specialists and survivors, including one who can literally “bark” from experience, to offer the free one-day seminar, “Natural Disasters: What About the Animals?”

The 2011 Human-Animal Bond Conference will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. The session will be in Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union, and will also be simulcast at the K-State Olathe campus and webcast here.

While no one plans to have an emergency or for such separations to occur, Elmore noted that in the ’93 flood in Manhattan, about 160 small animals and family pets were displaced and sheltered at K-State’s veterinary college until homes could be found.

A number of horses and larger animals also were sheltered during the disaster, he said.

The Sept. 24 seminar will provide information about natural disasters and how to protect animals during such events.

Animal owners; public safety personnel, such as police, fire fighters, health care providers, emergency management; staff of pet-related organizations; extension educators; and university staff and students are encouraged to attend.

The seminar includes a continental breakfast and gathering time, with the program beginning at 8:30 a.m. and including:

* Opening remarks from Gary Pierzynski, interim dean, K-State College of Agriculture, and interim director, K-State Research and Extension.

* Welcome/introduction by K-State's Emily Lehning, assistant vice president, new student services, and Kansas State Book Network Committee member.

* Book Review: “Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers will be reviewed by K-State's Greg Eiselein, professor of English and distinguished teaching scholar. The book focuses on the plight of residents of New Orleans and animals during Hurricane Katrina, and is required reading for incoming freshmen at K-State this year.

* “Firsthand Account of Handling Animals Following Katrina,” presented by Joseph Taboada, associate dean for student and academic affairs and a professor of small animal internal medicine at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

* “Invisible Pet Owners: Lessons Learned from Katrina,” presented by Lisa Greenhill, associate executive director for Institutional Research and Diversity for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Washington, D.C.

Following a break for lunch, which is on your own, the conference will resume with:

* “Lessons Learned Following the Greensburg, Kan., Tornado,” presented by Christen L. Skaer, a graduate of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine. Skaer has practiced small animal medicine in Wichita for 11 years, and has advanced training in veterinary disaster management, serves as the director of the Sedgwick County and Kansas State Animal Response Teams, and manages the Kansas Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps.

* “Personal Experience at Greensburg,” presented by Pam Muntz, Greensburg resident and K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences educator in Kiowa County. Muntz’s cocker spaniel rode out the tornado in a wire kennel as the home around her was destroyed, and now provides life lessons for the family.

* “How to be Prepared,” presented by Skaer.

* Concluding remarks will be presented by Ralph Richardson, dean of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Space is limited in Forum Hall. Registration is requested to ensure conference materials and refreshments. Register online here; or by downloading a registration form and mailing it to the address on the form. The deadline for registration in Manhattan is Sept. 16.

More information about the conference also is available at K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state and by calling 785-532-5773.

The simulcast of the Human-Animal Bond Conference at K-State Olathe is also from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24. Preregistration is not required; 120 seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sheila Dodson, a graduate of K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and owner of a veterinary practice in Lenexa, will serve as an on-site moderator and be available to lead discussions during the breaks. John Pascarella, associate dean of K-State Olathe, said there will be an opportunity to relay questions to speakers in Manhattan. For more information about the Olathe simulcast call 913-307-7313.

The conference is sponsored by K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, K-State Research and Extension, and eXtension, a national effort to support educational outreach.