BOOKS: Out of Harm’s Way: the extraordinary true story of one woman’s lifelong devotion to animal rescue

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

Out of Harm’s Way: the extraordinary true story
of one woman’s lifelong devotion to animal rescue
by Terri Crisp and Samantha Glen.
Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020), 1996. 394 pages, $23.00 hardcover.
Portions of the proceeds are donated to United Animal Nations.

I remember seeing film footage
back in the late 1950s of people rescuing animals
during a flood, wondering why they
were doing that. Raised on an isolated
Quebec farm, with animals as my constant
and only regular companions, I knew animals
were pretty smart, and I thought they
were capable of surviving or escaping disasters
of all sorts on their own.

Terri Crisp, who has spent much of
her life organizing animal-rescue operations
during natural disasters, has found this common
perception to be one of the biggest
obstacles to her work. Whether rescuing pets
from the 1983 Alviso or 1993 Missouri
floodwaters, the Los Gatos hill fires, or
Florida’s Hurricane Andrew, the situations
were always exacerbated by the ignorant or
callous actions of pet owners who all too
often abandoned pets to fend for themselves.
Notes Crisp, “…we have made pets dependent
on us by meddling with their ability to
escape injury and death during disasters.
When animals are confined in a cage, run,
pasture, house, or barn, they need a person
to save them from an approaching fire or rising
Crisp finds, too many times, that
people are so intent on saving furniture,
mementos, and other property, that they
don’t even take the simple expedient of freeing
pets to fend for themselves, much less
remove the animals from danger. She also
finds that animal control agencies and
humane societies often lack contingency
plans for disaster. The Red Cross, which
shelters human disaster victims, does not
shelter pets.
Out Of Harm’s Way is Crisp’s
account of more than 12 years of work to rectify
these problems. She got her training the
hard way, slogging through flood waters and
picking through debris, rescuing animals and
taking them to emergency accommodations.
She also took on the job of training other volunteers
to do such work, and of setting in
place agencies which help mobilize volunteers
for disaster rescue.
An interesting and useful account,
Crisp’s book should be sent to every municipal
or county government to convince them
of the necessity of drawing up disaster plans
for rescuing animals; and should be read by
anyone who cares about animals, to guide
them in safeguarding their pets in the event of
large-scale emergency.
––P.J. Kemp

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