How Animal Response Teams Began
The state animal response team model has its origins in North Carolina following the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Over three million pets, livestock, and poultry perished in that event, a figure that could have been substantially reduced with a coordinated emergency plan to address animal and agricultural animal issues. The North Carolina state animal response program was created as a partnership between state governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. Working within existing emergency management and response systems, including the Incident Command System (ICS), North Carolina SART’s mission was to ensure their state was prepared to address issues related to any disaster, any animal, anywhere in their state.
In 2003, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation hosted a pilot presentation of the North Carolina state animal response model in Colorado. An audience of over 80 people representing 60 state agencies and non-governmental organizations spent two days assimilating and planning.
The Kansas State Animal Response Team began as a steering committee, through an initiative of the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association in 2004. In 2004, a statewide symposium was held to gain interest from the Emergency Management community. In 2007, while still maintaining sponsorship by the KVMA, Kansas State Animal Response Team incorporated as a non-profit, public 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and continues to develop its organizational structure, training program and recruit key officers, board members, and volunteers.
There are many “flavors” of programs nationwide that either use the name State Animal Response Team, State Agricultural Response Team, or State Animal Resource Team, or have similar functions under different names. Current and developing SART-like programs now include North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maine, Kansas, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, Rhode Island, Texas and Maryland, and additional states. Other states have veterinary medical reserve corps programs, livestock disease emergency response organizations, and other mechanisms for addressing these important issues. In all, over 41 states and territories have some sort of an animal or agricultural emergency program to cultivate community and volunteer involvement.
Where Animal Response Teams Are Going
The Kansas State Animal Response Team is now coordinating efforts to develop a regional plan for animal response teams in Kansas. Several counties have teams (known as county animal response teams or CARTs), currently 15 out of the 105 Kansas counties. With regionalization, the existing county teams will not become obsolete and new county team development will not be discouraged. Instead, these county teams will be asked to also support and participate at the regional level. The goal of regionalization is to build proficiency in resources and be prepared to support every Kansas county in the event of a disaster. The regional team concept capitalizes on what each county can bring to the table as well as economies of scale. Eventually the right mix, between county and regional animal response teams, will be found, but to expect that every county can develop/maintain their own team is less likely than the ability to develop seven strong regional animal response teams to support Kansans and their animals. Animal response teams are important in disaster response and equally important in educating the general public, and animal related businesses, about including their animals as a part of their disaster preparations.
For more information on County or Regional Animal Response Teams, visit our webpage, Animal Response teams in Kansas. From that page you can find more information on specific teams in your area.