Do you love animals? Have you ever wanted to be a part of an organization which helps animals in emergency situations? Ready to volunteer and follow your passion? Well, have I found an organization for you!
In conjunction with Emergency Preparedness Week in British Columbia May 08 - 13, 2017, I thought it would be an ideal time to showcase a great national organization that does just that. It has animal welfare as its focus. It is "dedicated to animal welfare through the preparation for and the actual rescue, shelter, and care for domestic pets and livestock animals during natural and manmade emergencies and disasters." Maybe now is the right time in your life to join and volunteer.
Late last month I sat down with Heather Ferguson, CDART's Southwest Coordinator and her team at their monthly meeting. She shared some good information about their service. It was fascinating. The provincial representatives of the not-for-profit, 100% volunteer Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team (CDART) was founded in Penticton after the BC wildfires 2003 with expansion to the South West Region in 2009. It has since deployed to a number of disasters within the province as well as during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Fort McMurray Fire. A smaller event, the CDART team had an intake of 68 animals during a large apartment building fire in Maple Ridge also in 2016. The other provincial branches are CDART Central and Southeast. Most volunteers are based in BC but their goal is to have volunteers throughout Canada.[i] Ideally, fifty volunteers are needed to service the Lower Mainland. The many existing volunteers bring a host of varied skill sets to the Team but a common thread among all of them is a big compassionate heart and the desire to help animals and their guardians, especially during a very stressful situation. Heather said, "The Team could always use more dedicated, good-hearted people."
What happens when there is an emergency or disaster?
Typically, when an emergency event occurs, there is a call out from the Emergency Social Services (ESS) Director. All callouts are not the same; some may be for a small incident such as an apartment building fire or a large scale event like the Fort McMurray fire in May 2016. Available members of the Team respond to the designated reception facility, often a recreation centre, where the Team can set up an emergency animal shelter facility in a quiet area of the centre if a shelter is needed. Ideally, pet guardians evacuate with their animals so when they attend the reception centre to register themselves, they have the option to register their animals if they need to place them temporarily. In some situations, the animals are rescued by first responders. CDART volunteers transport them to the temporary shelter, with the central goal to reunite pets with their guardians. This is very similar to the unification of family members in emergency response. CDART also helps pet guardians with immediate needs of pet care in order that they can more easily shoulder the burden of repairing their personal lives. Regardless of the event size, the common impact is potentially devastating to those directly involved. Every life matters.
When necessary, the Team goes to work with many important activities such as . . .
Training is required as untrained volunteers would be very restricted in their capacity to operationally participate. Through ESS training, volunteers learn how the reception centre functions which allows CDART operations to run smoothly within the system. Training in CDART protocols permits volunteers to contribute in Operations, Search and Response, Logistics, and Safety and Planning. Really, there is something for everyone!
Even if volunteering isn't for you, I strongly encourage preparation of a personal Pet Emergency Preparedness kit. CDART has comprehensive shopping lists specifically for cats, dogs, and birds available. If you are interested in volunteering or need more information, contact Heather Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or attend one of their monthly meetings. The Southwest branch holds its meetings on the last Wednesday of each month (except July and August). The meetings are part information sharing and part training. They'd love to meet you and are happy to guide and help you get involved. Either way, it is a wonderful investment in animal welfare . . . and it's nice to know that there are some amazing people available in case of an emergency or disaster.
Visit http://www.cdart.org for an overview of CDART. Also, see them on Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/CDART-Southwest-BC-241411735956025/
For instructions about creating a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit, go to BC Emergency Preparedness http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/build-an-emergency-kit
Many thanks to CDART volunteer Janette King for her kind assistance.
For the animals
P.S. I also have the pet preparedness shopping lists and can email them to you.
Reana Selody Joubert
Pondering, mulling, musing with pen in hand about animals or people, sometimes family or sometimes wild. Oh, and news & events, too.
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