National Training Prepares Americans to Handle Emergency Animal Relief Following Major Disasters

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DART program comes to 6 cities nationwide

Pet Rescued During Hurricane Katrina. All photos courtesy: The Humane Society of the United States.

The goal was to reunite these animals with their displaced owners

"There were over a thousand animals there at any given time." McLane Evans recounts her experience assisting lost and injured pets after Hurricane Katrina. "We worked long days - up to 20 hours, and slept in tents," says the volunteer, trained in emergency animal relief situations. While animal rescuers managed to save the lives of many stranded and abandoned pets in the disaster, it would be impossible to tell just how many companion animals lost their lives in the Hurricane Katrina disaster. According to the Humane Society, there were between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs and cats handled in temporary shelters throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. This number may have been much smaller had there been an emergency animal relief plan.

Evans would agree, when emergencies hit, having a plan can save a lot of lives - a plan for people, and pets. That's why Humane Society University offers Disaster Animal Response Team (DART). It's a program designed to prepare interested people for emergency animal relief situations, such as in the aftermath of hurricanes or even wildfires or tornadoes.

Evans has completed the DART training. Her first involvement with DART was during the Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts. She was sent to work in a makeshift animal shelter set up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to relieve first responders sent to the scene. "The goal was to reunite these animals with their displaced owners," explained Evans. "When an owner came in, you held your breath just hoping you could witness the reunion. It still brings tears to my eyes." Melanie Froemke, Humane Society University Training Manager says, "It helps when trainees register as National DART (N-DART) volunteers so the Humane Society can call on them and send them anywhere in the U.S. in the event of an emergency."

"Disaster Animal Response Team" or DART trainings are 3-day courses designed to familiarize participants with disaster situations and train them to be effective emergency animal relief responders. Just about anyone can undergo the training to assist in a crisis.

The courses include classroom trainings as well as specialized exercises to encourage role playing and quick response in an emergency situation. Course graduates will have a basic understanding of disaster response for animals and will be in a position to help develop their own local DART teams.

Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) training will be conducted by the Humane Society University at the following dates and locations:

DAYTON, OH:
Wednesday, July 9th - Friday, July 11th
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Wednesday only)
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Wednesday & Thursday)
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Friday)
Classes will be held at:
Montgomery County Animal Resource Center
6790 Webster St
Dayton, OH 45414
Cost: $125. Please register by June 25th. Late registration is sometimes accepted.

SAN RAMON, CA:
Friday, August 15th - Sunday, August 17th
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Friday only)
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Friday and Saturday)
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Sunday)
Classes will be held at:
San Ramon Valley Fire Station - EOC
Emergency Operations Center
1500 Bollinger Canyon Road
San Ramon, CA
Cost: $115 if registered by July 11th
$125 if registered by August 1st
Late registration is sometimes accepted.

PHOENIX, AZ:
Monday, August 25th - Wednesday, August 27th
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Monday only)
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Monday and Tuesday)
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Wednesday)
Classes will be held at:
Arizona Chapter National Safety Council
1606 West Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85015
Cost: $115 if registered by July 21st
$125 if registered by August 11th
Late Registration is sometimes accepted.

EVERETT, WA:
Tuesday, October 7th - Thursday, October 9th
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Tuesday only)
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Tuesday & Wednesday)
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Thursday)
(Training Venue TBD)
Cost: $115 if registered by September 2nd
$125 if registered by September 23rd
Late registration is sometimes accepted.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT:
Friday, October 24th - Sunday, October, 26th
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Friday only)
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Friday & Saturday)
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Sunday)
Classes will be held at:
Salt Lake County Emergency Management
3380 South 900 West
South Salt Lake, UT 84119
Cost: $115 if registered by September 19th
$125 if registered by October 10th
Late registration is sometimes accepted

LEESBURG, VA:
Friday, November 7th - Sunday, November 9th
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Friday & Saturday)
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Sunday)
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. (Friday)
One hour lunch on your own
Training Venue TBD
Cost: $115 if registered by October 3rd
$125 if registered by October 24th
Late registration is sometimes accepted

TO REGISTER:
Late registration is sometimes accepted. Register online at humanesociety.org/university. Type in the keyword: DART, to locate the course. For late registrations or group registrations, please contact Frances Gaeta at register@hsus.org

For more information about Humane Society University, DART training and to register, Visit the website at http://www.humanesociety.org/university and type in the keyword: DART.

ABOUT HUMANE SOCIETY UNIVERSITY:
Humane Society University (HSU) offers on-site workshops, on-line courses and degree programs to help volunteers and animal care workers gain the skills needed to maximize their ability to help animals. Humane Society University is the training arm of the Humane Society of the United States. Workshops are offered on-line or at host facilities nationwide.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES:
*VIDEO B-ROLL of actual animal rescues during disasters is available upon request.
Additional photos available upon request. The media is invited to attend the courses, which will provide numerous visual opportunities. Interviews with Melanie Froemke, Humane Society University Training Manager and McLane Evans can be arranged.

Please Contact:
Kelly Farnan at 727-709-5252
or
Julie Robbins at 646-981-3342

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