During a disaster, people and property protection is usually the first to come to the mind of most citizens. From the word “Go”, steps to protect public and private property from the hazards are put in place. Shelters may be established, evacuations may be initiated, and information is shared with the responders and the public. However there is a team in Pueblo County who has another priority to add to that list, the County Animal Response Team (CART). The CART is a network of government, non-profits, businesses, and volunteers who work to address the needs of the animals in Pueblo County during a crisis.
While owner preparedness is a key message of the group, they also know there will be situations where animals will be at risk during a crisis and the group works to reduce those risks. Estimates are 70% of Pueblo County residents are pet/livestock owners and most of those own more than one animal. Pet owners can learn more about disaster preparedness for pets at www.ready.gov/caring-animals<http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals>.
The CART team works in advance of the emergency to train volunteers, establish shelter locations, and identify the response and messaging needs of pet and livestock owners in our community. The group is looking for volunteers NOW, so they can be response ready in 2013 and beyond.
CART is a unique and rewarding volunteer opportunity, but just like other volunteer programs, there is a pre-screening/orientation process. They WILL NOT take on spontaneous volunteers during a disaster, so if you want to help then, you need to act now. Volunteers can indicate if they would like to specialize in small or large animals. Those interested can volunteer for CART by contacting either of the below organizations.