Disaster Animal Response Team Seeks Volunteers

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/15/2017 1:03:41 AM
Modified: 10/15/2017 1:03:42 AM

Windsor — The Upper Valley Disaster Animal Response Team is looking for volunteers to help with everything from emergency response to fundraising and grant writing.

“There’s lots of things,” said Anne Ackley, chair of the team. “There’s always something coming up, a new idea or new way of figuring out the logistics.”

The Upper Valley team is part of a network of disaster animal response teams that were formed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When New Orleans was evacuated, about one-third of pet owners either refused to leave their homes or returned to try to save their pets, putting themselves and first responders at risk, Ackley said. That’s when congressional leaders passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which required states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to have a plan to evacuate pets from natural disasters.

The Upper Valley team was founded about eight years ago. The team has a trailer that is housed at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center that has the ability to house 40 to 80 pets during an evacuation. The team has not yet been called to respond to any disasters, which Ackley said can make finding volunteers a bit tricky.

“That’s the difficult part about volunteering with an organization like this. Not a lot happens, and that’s a good thing,” she said. Nevertheless, the team conducts training throughout the year and meets monthly at Mt. Ascutney Hospital to talk about disaster response. Team members also appear at walks and other events to raise awareness about the team and to encourage people to have a disaster plan for their own pets.

“Just like you make a plan for your kids, it’s important to make a plan for your pets,” Ackley said. She recommends preparing a “to-go” bag with pet food, medications, medical records and a leash or carrier.

The Upper Valley team meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month in lower level conference room 2 at Mt. Ascutney Hospital in Windsor. The next meeting will be Oct. 24, at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can contact Ackley at 802-952-9422 or annackley15@gmail.com. For more information on local disaster animal response teams, visit www.vermontdart.org.

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