For over a decade, PetAid Disaster Services has been a leader in animal disaster preparedness. PetAid has worked hard to expand the capacity throughout Colorado to respond to the needs of animals in the event of disasters by training counties to develop their animal disaster planning and to create their own County Animal Response Teams (CARTS). In addition, PetAid has maintained the Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (COVMRC) to provide veterinary professionals and animal emergency responders with the training and credentialing necessary to support animal health and public health emergency response during disasters on a statewide level. PetAid has held a seat at the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC), managed disaster relief trailers including the two donated to PetAid by AKC for deployment when needed during a disaster, and worked with many partners to expand disaster relief efforts throughout the state.
After deliberate and thoughtful consideration, PetAid has made the decision to no longer manage and maintain the Disaster Services program including the COVMRC. This decision has not come lightly but out of necessity as state and federal funds for disaster relief have been steadily redirected to other types of programs. Our PetAid Board of Directors would like PetAid Colorado to focus staff time and funding streams on our other three programs, the PetAid Animal Hospital, PetAid Community Outreach, and PetAid Care Grants. Please see our website for more information on these programs, www.petaidcolorado.org.
PetAid is confident in the systems put into place to respond to disasters, and while capacity building and consistent training will continue to be a future need, we recognize that all disasters begin and end at the local level and so we encourage volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and volunteer animal responders to get involved at their local county level by joining their local CART or either of the two statewide Medical Reserve Corps units and their local Medical Reserve Corps unit.
PetAid will do our best to ensure the Disaster Service program including the COVMRC dissolve from our management umbrella with ease. The COVMRC will be transferred to Eagle Valley Humane and managed by their team on a statewide level; they will now be the housing and fiscal agent for the East and West units. Sarah Heckathorn has accepted the East unit coordinator position while Char Gonsenica will continue management of the West unit. If you would like information on joining either of these units, contact Sarah Heckathorn at firstname.lastname@example.org for the East unit or Char Gonsenica at email@example.com for information regarding the West Unit. Additionally, you can contact Koral O’Brien, the state Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The State EOC seat will be managed and filled by the appropriate governing body, which is no longer PetAid. The CART training materials PetAid has developed can be used by other trainers and county leaders to continue to build county CARTS where they are needed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) trailers donated to PetAid for deployment statewide will also find a new management home and will still be available for deployment in the case of a disaster. Contact information will be provided for all these program components as we finalize plans and put contracts in place with the appropriate parties.
We will keep the PetAid website up to date with information and resources as we move through this process, and we appreciate your patience as we navigate all the needs. The documents, trainings, and exercises on the PetAid website remain useful for anyone who is interested in participating in animal disaster response and recovery, so we encourage you to continue to use those training resources.
We appreciate your support of PetAid Disaster Services through the years and we ask for your continued support and patience as we transition this program.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Katie Koch, Director of Programs and Initiatives, at PetAid Colorado, at KatieKoch@petaidcolorado.org.