BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension has won a $28,000 grant from State Homeland Security and Emergency Services via the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services to assist communities with planning for the evacuation and accommodation of pets and service animals and the sheltering of livestock during natural disasters and emergencies.
The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, also known as the Stafford Act, authorizes the delivery of federal technical, financial, logistical and other assistance to states and localities during declared major disasters or emergencies, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
In 2006, Congress amended the act as part of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act to require states that seek Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to plan accommodations for pets and service animals as a component of their plans for evacuation of residents.
MSU Extension associate specialists Jeanne Rankin and Tommy Bass will use the grant to help communities create Community Animal Response Teams. Their project provides training for six local jurisdictions to develop CARTs and provides comprehensive animal sheltering response exercises for two communities that already have plans in place.
CARTs consist of volunteers who are trained and credentialed as part of existing, organized county or tribal response teams. Anyone who is interested in helping with animal evacuation and sheltering during a disaster can participate in training. The program will provide local jurisdictions with guidance to complete a threat and hazard identification and risk assessment, develop a resource list and create their plans.
Failure to have CARTs in place can compromise human evacuation and sheltering efforts as people attempt to care for their animals, according to Rankin. Human safety, animal safety and mental health are all at increased risk, Rankin said.
Currently, Rankin and Bass are working with two communities. Citizens in the Corvallis and Hamilton area came together following the Roaring Lion fire. They have an equine rescue group, livestock group and pet group who meet regularly. There is also a group working to develop a tri-county CART in Glacier, Pondera and Toole counties. MSU Extension is seeking four more groups to participate.
In addition, MSU Extension is seeking two groups who currently have livestock and/or pet CARTs in place to conduct the functional exercises. This will allow the group to test all elements of the plan in a mock emergency situation.
To inquire about CART training or the functional exercises, contact Rankin at (406) 465-5142 or email@example.com.
All activities must be complete by September 2017.
Contact: Jeanne Rankin, MSU Extension, (406) 465-5142 or Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org