Local animal response teams needed

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – In the last decade the federal government has mandated emergency plans for pets be incorporated in local emergency plans. Although Virginia is one of the few states to create a State Animal Response Team- on the local level there's still a lot of work to do.

"One of the reasons people do not leave their homes during a disaster, actually the number one reason, is because they don't want to leave their loved ones- they don't want to leave their pets behind," said Kevin M. Kilgore with Hanover County Animal Control.

In an emergency, a Community Action Response Team would rescue the pets and proved medical treatment and shelter. The response team would then work to reunite the animals with their owners. The pets that will benefit from a response team are: dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and turtles.

"It is a planned process. And it's very difficult when you're dealing with living animals that don't always appreciate voice commands," said Kilgore.

Right now, the areas with stable plans are in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater area. The State Animal Response Team says rural areas in the southern part of the state are having trouble drawing resources.

"There are areas that still have not developed local community plans," said Peggy Allen with the VA State Animal Response Team.

Databases of volunteers, supplies and shelters are forming. New regulations require intensive training and credentials- some speculate that may be the reason localities are having trouble forming animal response teams.

For more information: www.virginiasart.org

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