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Partnership is key!

Written by Red Paw’s Chester County Coordinator and Chester CART volunteer, Paula Carmichael in conjunction with Volunteer Management Coordinator for the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Janet Zeis

At Red Paw, we are all about partnership! We could not do what we do without them! Last year during our One Year Anniversary, we gave our first Partnership Award to the American Red Cross, SEPA Chapter for the amazing support and assistance their volunteers and staff give to us everyday! This year for our Two Year Anniversary, we will give the Partnership Award to another one of our partners, (I know the suspense is killing you but you’ll have to wait and see who it is).

Red Paw responds to all 5 counties in Southeastern PA, so having partners we can rely on all over the region is key to our success! We have no better partners anywhere than we do in Chester County, with the Chester County Animal Response Team (CCART). With Hurricane Season in full swing we though it’d be a good idea to explain how the CART’s and Red Paw work together to further the common goal which is to include animals in every facet of disaster planning and emergency response.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of millions of animals in North Carolina and thousands more were separated from their owners. Many of these animals could have been saved by a coordinated response plan. From this tragedy, the State Animal Response Team (SART) concept was born. In 2004, Pennsylvania adopted this concept to address its animal-related disaster response needs.

The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART) was created through a private-public partnership to serve as a unifying network of organizations, businesses, federal, state, county and local government agencies, and individuals that supports the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies affecting animals. Because disaster response needs to happen at a local level, PASART builds County Animal Response Teams (CARTs) across the state. County coordinators are selected to lead the development of county teams consisting of volunteers who will respond to emergencies at the local level. In essence, the CARTs were set up to do large scale disaster response and sheltering for animals and they work closely with the American Red Cross to set up co-located pet shelters during these disasters.

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A lot of the CART volunteers are also Red Paw volunteers and we all cross train together. This helps the team members who are able to assist disaster survivors by taking care of individual or small family groups of animals. As the scale of the disaster increases, the lead agency role shifts to CCART who strives to make disaster shelters operated by the Red Cross “pet friendly”.

When Hurricane Sandy struck, two pet friendly shelters were set-up in Chester County. Preparedness is always the key, and as a team, we wereready. Having just gone through a comprehensive shelter training class, the team immediately put the insight and skills to work. During the days of the storm, and as members of the community came to the shelter for comfort and safety, they were greeted by a caring team, who are fellow members of the community, who organized a safe haven where families could feel comfortable and assured that they AND their pets, the entire family, would be safe.

At the conclusion of any sheltering effort, there may be unmet needs. While it was not needed in Chester County following Sandy, some survivors in Philly, Bucks and Montgomery Counties needed additional help with their pets because they couldn’t immediately return to their residences. The lead shifts back to Red Paw who was ready to come to the forefront to provide longer term foster care, transport, vet care and supplies for the families in need.

Come visit us at any fair or festival (where often times we are sharing a table) and you will receive information about the importance of preparedness for yourself and your pet. You will also hear about the system of fosters that Red Paw has in place and how Red Paw works with so many partner agencies. By sharing members, equipment, and resource lists, both organizations have worked hard to improve the capability to respond. By working together, Chester County, along with all of Southeastern PA, is a model for a more resilient community for pets and the people who love them!

For more info on CART go to www.pasart.us


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