October 17th, 2007 5:33 pm | by Jonah Sandford News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

TOPOFF Diary: Pet Project

I'm standing in a small trailer, listening to an officer from Multnomah County Animal Control explain to me how and why the mistakes of FEMA after Hurricane Katrina will never be repeated here in Portland.
Behind him, there is a wall of small cages with stuffed animals in them.
They're really not making it easy to take this TOPOFF thing seriously.
So here we are, Day Two of the largest counterterrorism exercise in U.S, history. And the attention shifts this afternoon to the parking lot of Greater Gresham Baptist church on northeast Division (I know! Not a typo! It becomes northeast Division street out there!), where the Red Cross has set up a shelter for "victims" of the devastating "blast" that struck our city at 9:06 yesterday morning.
These particular "victims" were supposed to be citizens who live within the area now covered with a nuclear cloud, who were discharged from the hospital but can't return to their homes. Several "victims" in this scenario also have pets, which gave the city of Gresham an excellent opportunity to show off its two mobile animal control trailers, which happened to be parked in the church parking lot. Those that didn't bring pets brought stuffed animals. And all the animals--real and stuffed--were placed in cages in the trailers. On the front of each cage was both the animal's and owner's names and information, along with a picture of the two together.
These trailers, which contain a surgery center and decontamination equipment, are meant to create a safe living space away from human victims, so the humans in the shelter can have a clean, pet-free environment and know their pets are safe and sound.
The Red Cross was bombarded with 14 pets this morning--six real dogs, one real cat, and seven stuffed animals of all types. The pets belonged to the "victims" (actually residents of a nearby senior center), and seemed to be pretty excited when they finally were released from their cages:
These animals--the real and the stuffed--will probably never know the integral role they played today, paving the road for all the animals who may now have a chance to survive the unthinkable.
Actually, Jasmine here looked appropriately proud as she headed towards home:
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