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Greater Manchester named RSPCA Innovator of the Decade for work caring for pets during an emergency

28/11/2018

Greater Manchester has been honoured as an ‘Innovator of the Decade’ for its work to make sure pets are looked after at times of emergency.

Greater Manchester has been honoured as an ‘Innovator of the Decade’ for its work to make sure pets are looked after at times of emergency.

The RSPCA has announced that the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities Civil Contingencies and Resilience Unit (CCRU) has won its most prestigious award, the Innovator of the Decade. The unit is one of just two organisations in the whole of England and Wales to ever be given the accolade.

The award is recognising the work that has been done to ensure that pets and animals are among the priority considerations during an emergency response thanks to Greater Manchester’s use of the pioneering 3Ps during evacuation and shelter planning: People, Pets, Possessions.

In Greater Manchester a Strategic Multi-Agency Pet Evacuation Plan has been developed, giving guidance to all responding agencies on what they need to consider in relation to pets during a major emergency, including identifying space for pets in rest and evacuation centres and giving guidance for dealing with lost and left pets.

The need for a proper plan for animals in case of an emergency was highlighted in June 2012 when a large explosion seriously damaged a number of homes in Shaw in Oldham, sadly killing toddler Jamie Heaton and leading to the evacuation of nearly 250 properties.

As the explosion had taken place during the day, many residents were at work and the pets had been left behind, as people returned home, they gathered at the cordon worried about their pets and some even considered going through the cordon to get their animals.

The council started a detailed spreadsheet with a variety of information, including the details of any pets left in properties which was then used throughout the process of rescuing pets from homes and reuniting them with their owners. All the pets, including dogs, cats, hamsters, tortoises, ferrets and terrapins, were rescued and returned to their owners thanks to this method.

The incident highlighted that during emergency evacuations pets could be overlooked and that the approach across Greater Manchester for pets was varied and inconsistent, emergency services also had little plans in place for what to do. The 3Ps now ensure that pets are at the heart of our emergency response.

Kathy Oldham, Greater Manchester’s Chief Resilience Officer said: “People’s pets are very often part of the family so it is only right that at times of emergency, we look out for them as well. When people are forced to leave their homes it can be extremely stressful and making sure their pets are included in our planning can help to make things that little bit easier for people.

“It is a real honour for Greater Manchester to be given this award and we will continue to work hard to put animals at the heart of the work we do.”

The 3Ps was highlighted during the Wing Fat wholesale company fire in October 2017, which evacuated many properties. One couple with a dog attended a rest centre and could not stay with family and friends. The tactical officer from the local authority and the reception centre manager went out of their way to find the couple a pet friendly hotel and arrange transport for them.

Staff from the Unit attended a Winners Reception in London yesterday (Tuesday, November 27) to collect their award.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor for the RSPCA, said: “The Innovator of the Decade judges wanted to recognise the unit for the 3Ps contingency planning work as they are still, so many years after the tragic gas explosion that inspired it, the country-leaders in this area.

“Their proactive approach to recognising and promoting animals in their contingency planning work is unmatched - and has a clear and tangible effect on both animal and human welfare.”