No man–or dog–left behind in Louisa

Posted on Monday, August 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Instructors JoEllen Cimmino, director of Animal Disaster Services, and Rhonda Embrey, CART and SART member, demonstrate how to provide emergency oxygen to a pet in distress.

Instructors JoEllen Cimmino, director of Animal Disaster Services, and Rhonda Embrey, CART and SART member, demonstrate how to provide emergency oxygen to a pet in distress.

When natural disasters occur and people have to evacuate their homes, many pet owners are faced with making the difficult decision of what to do with their beloved animals.

There have been many cases of residents refusing to leave their homes because they were not allowed to bring their pets with them to the emergency shelters, hotels or other points of safety. This places not only the homeowner, but also the emergency responders in preventable danger.

Hurricane Floyd in 1999 claimed the lives of millions of animals in North Carolina, and thousands more were separated from their owners. Many of these animals could have been saved by a coordinated response plan such as the one like Louisa County Certified Animal Response Team (CART) is striving to establish.

Founded in 2013 by Catherine Heath and Donnie Embrey, the nonprofit organization works to address the need for an emergency pet shelter for the citizens of Louisa County.  The organization’s mission is to educate the public about disaster preparedness for companion animals and to train volunteers to be ready to respond when required, be it in the event of large storms or other emergency situations such as man-made disasters.

The Louisa Community Animal Response Team began with a grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that provided the funds to obtain a trailer and the equipment needed to set up the Emergency Companion Pet Evacuation Shelter.  The trailer can house 80 animals and contains vital shelter supplies including animal cages.

Furthermore, in July of 2013, the Louisa CART became one of only 10 CART teams in Virginia to be recognized by the Virginia State Animal Response Team (SART).

This past weekend, CART hosted a two-day event, funded by a grant from the Charlottesville-Louisa Community Foundation, at Louisa County Middle School. The event consisted of classroom training and included a mock disaster drill to assess how well they reacted in an emergency situation.

Five instructors led in-depth courses on topics such as animal first aid and CPR, emergency animal shelter intake procedures, disease prevention and control techniques, and animal disaster response. The 46 attendees, which consisted of many humane society and animal control specialists from Virginia and Maryland and CART team members from across the state, participated in imperative hands-on activities.  They learned how to administer CPR on a wide range of pet sizes and how to provide oxygen assistance, to name a few.

To read the entire story, see the July 31 education of The Central Virginian.

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