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Louisa CART team of Virginia Animal Disaster Training

Louisa CART team of Virginia Animal Disaster Training

Team Leader Donnie Embry and his wife Rhonda spearheaded this training for their local CART team after attending the Virginia SART training in Wakefield Virginia earlier this year. The training was to be done at the Louisa County Middle School in Mineral, Virginia. The CART team picked the topics they wanted to review with their crew which included topics on animal intake and fostering, animal disaster sheltering, disaster psychology, animal behavior and handling topics for dogs and cats, while large animals would not be allowed on site, pocket pets would be so they requested how to care for pocket pets in a disaster. Pet first aid and CPR certification was included to round out the hands-on portion of the training.

Since this location was also to be an actual sheltering site the CART team wanted to add in a full scale sheltering exercise so that the CART team could practice their response plan. An intense one and half day training immediately followed by a 2 hour sheltering exercise the results …… Priceless! Why you ask?

What better way to plan and train as you go and respond as you grow your own team. Louisa CART had many of their key players really involved and interestingly enough, many unique and highly qualified guest participants from Washington, DC’s own Emergency Management and FEMA. The weekend started off with a very informational presentation by Dr. Samuel Tate from Virginia SART. The training went through key topics for an animal disaster response shelter including intake, animal fostering and shelter information presented by Tammy and our very own president of ARRC, Linda Lugo, who talked about the fostering side of things from a different perspective… How about a whole new twist of potential foster homes or pet friendly housing for families that are displaced? Solution, Real Estate Realtors’ to the rescue??? Nope we weren’t kidding. One of the issues in finding decent animal foster families in the middle of a disaster is most of your foster people already have foster pets in their homes, and here it is crisis crunch time. Linda talked about how she was able to get a slew of decent prospective foster homes during Hurricane Sandy and also put the call out for pet friendly housing for displaced families, even better when the family can stay with their own pets. This was a win-win solution.

Dr. Shelley Hamill gave the Disaster Psychology topic and spoke about the importance of taking care of oneself during and after a disaster response. She also sent around a questionnaire based on information about how responders feel about certain situations that are faced with from the responders view point.

In the afternoon the class participated in animal body language and animal handling for dogs and cats and even a mini course on what to do with pocket pets if they arrive at the disaster shelter. How to feed, house, care and recognize certain conditions while at the shelter. It was stressed that surviving the disaster and the disaster sheltering process were equally important. After breakfast we launched right into the pet CPR and First Aid class that had the class moving to rescue their pets from toxic ingestions, to traumatic injuries so that the whole class was on their toes giving rescue breaths and compressions in their victims noses, referred to mouth to snout rescue breathing with manual chest compressions including a three person rescue technique, and saving victims from choking hazards.

After all the feedback and the exercise debriefing was done, important information went back to key emergency planning individuals about that particular animal sheltering site. Basically the metalworking shop was unsuitable for the CART teams needs for a public animal disaster shelter. It was agreed and a new suitable location has been located in a different location at the school. Ahh, a successful and happy ending to a perfect training adventure. Thanks to the entire Louisa CART team for hosting a great training!