Construction is expected to begin in December on a mobile pet shelter which will be ready for use by the 2015 hurricane season, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain said Monday.

“The benefit of a mobile pet shelter is immediate onsite sheltering and care of pets affected by a disaster, the ease of safe transport of pets, reduced expense of sheltering and care and the ability to relocate quickly to be co-located with pet owners,” Strain said.

“What we have experienced in the past are victims who have refused assistance unless their pets were accommodated,” he said.

The project includes a tractor trailer that will have a 60 pet capacity. It will be equipped with metal cages, feed, water bowls and a wash down system. It will also have an air ventilaton system to provide proper air circulation and temperature for the pets. The new mobile pet shelter unit will also be used in search and rescue missions and will be available, on request, to other states during a disaster.

The mobile unit will augment the current pet sheltering plan under which thousands of pets can be accommodated at mega pet shelters.

Strain’s department is designated by the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act to evacuate, transport and shelter household pets during declared emergencies.

The $80,000 project cost is being paid for through a private donation and funds from his department. A $40,000 donation came from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, Dr. Walter J. Ernst Jr. Veterinary Memorial Foundation and Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association.

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