Month: January 2014
Animal response team offers emergency pet care
Thank you for your great coverage of the recent blizzard, especially of the Cape’s emergency response. Great effort has been put into the development of a regional emergency plan for Cape Cod. However, I was disappointed that you did not mention the involvement of Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team, which is an active and important part of this plan.
Over 100 animals — 78 dogs, 34 cats and four birds — were co-sheltered with their owners at all the shelters. The CCDART volunteers provided a safe and comfortable environment for all these animals where their owners could both visit and provide care. For those who were too infirm to come to the animal shelter area, we provided their animals’ care.
One of CCDART’s main missions is to provide this service so that people, especially the elderly, might be more willing to come to shelters knowing that their animals are nearby and accessible as opposed to refusing to leave their cold houses without their pets.
Image Posted on
EASTHAM — 021013 — Warren Wentworth of Brewster visits with his Yorkie, Pugs, with Disaster Animal Response Team volunteer Cindy Nicholson at the Nauset Regional High School Red Cross shelter on Sunday. “They keep you fed, it’s warm in here and the people are nice,” Wentworth said of the shelter. Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkep
Image Posted on Updated on
Per Bentsen of Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team, left, and Collin Fox of AmeriCorps Cape Cod unwrap cots for the shelter at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham on Feb. 8, the weekend before the blizzard.
Cape shelter helpers in short supply
BARNSTABLE — When a ferocious blizzard blitzed Cape Cod two weeks ago, a small army of volunteers sprung into action.
It turns out it may have been too small.
A half-dozen organizations sent volunteers to man radios, unpack shelter materials and serve food at the three shelters opened by the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee. When the wind and snow knocked out power to the shelter at Sandwich High School and a generator failed, a fourth shelter in Falmouth was opened.
For some volunteers, one shift crept into the next and the next, exposing a potential shortfall in the amount of unpaid help available on the Cape in an emergency.
“They were heroes but they needed relief,” said Sean O’Brien, coordinator of the regional emergency planning committee.
Although they are still collecting numbers on how many people pitched in during the blizzard, O’Brien and Dennis Police Chief Michael Whalen, who oversees the regional shelter system for the committee, estimate that double the number of volunteers who showed up were needed.
“We’ve got to widen the pool of volunteers,” Whalen said.
Whalen and O’Brien praised the volunteers who responded to help during the storm, including those from AmeriCorps Cape Cod, the county’s medical reserve corps, the sheriff’s community emergency response team, the Cape Cod Amateur Radio Emergency Services, the Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team and the American Red Cross.
In addition, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority provided crucial transportation to and from the shelters, O’Brien said.
At Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, volunteers took care of more than 500 people during the blizzard and its aftermath, including 325 at one time, Whalen said.
Volunteers worked well beyond their shifts and, in at least one case, a volunteer was on duty for 72 hours, he said.
The Red Cross, which typically provides the bulk of helpers for emergency shelter programs, has a list of 600 volunteers in the state to call on, said Kat Powers, spokeswoman for the organization’s Eastern Massachusetts region.
For the blizzard, the Red Cross had 230 volunteers, who assisted in 14 shelters opened in Massachusetts, including the four on the Cape, Powers said.
Volunteers were pre-positioned for the storm and some were unable to leave after their first shift ended because of continued severe weather and a driving ban put in place by the state, she said.
“We were well-staffed for every one of our 14 shelters throughout the region without complaint,” Powers said.
In some cases, however, volunteers had to be shifted from one shelter to another shelter as populations varied and the CEO of the Red Cross for Eastern Massachusetts helped out at the Falmouth High School shelter, Powers said.
The Red Cross never requires volunteers to work more than one 12-hour shift at a time, although some volunteers may do so by choice, she said.
Local officials are planning on taking another look at how much staffing they can count on for future shelter operations, Whalen said. “We’ve got to talk about that and determine how much more the Red Cross can actually do.”
The regional emergency planning committee may ask Rotary Clubs and other nonprofit service groups to help out, Whalen said, adding that Holly Rogers, director of the Disaster Animal Response Team, already has launched a volunteer drive.
The committee will discuss the response to the storm, including volunteer requirements at the shelters, at its next meeting March 6, O’Brien said.
Regardless of whether there were enough volunteers in place for the blizzard, everyone who spoke with the Times for this story said there’s always room for more.
“We were happy with our response to this blizzard, but we always need more people to help us,” Powers said.
For more information on where and how to volunteer for future emergencies visit the following websites:
- American Red Cross at www.redcross.org
- Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team at www.ccdart.org
- Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps at www.ccmedicalreservecorps.org
- Barnstable County Sheriff Community Emergency Response Team at www.bsheriff.net/cert.htm
- Cape Cod Amateur Radio Service at www.barnstablearc.org (click on “About Cape ARES”)
Image Posted on
Sandwich 2/08/13 Members of the Cape Cod Animal Disaster Animal Response Team Debra Miller of Sandwich (closest) with her dog, Austin, and Cari Cabral of Falmouth with Brie watch over their pets at the shelter at Sandwich high school Friday evening.
Cape Cod Times/Ron Schloerb
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Ron Schloerb
Cape Cod DART puts the focus on pet safety during storm season
Getting your pet to safety too
Rogers (the human member of the team) directs the volunteer organization Cape Cod Disaster Animal Rescue Team (DART). The group coordinates with regional emergency organizations and handles setting up evacuation areas for pets in five of the Cape’s six regional evacuation shelters.
It can happen here
Brodie, a Cheaspeake Bay Retriever, keeps a close eye on his human partner Holly Rodgers, director of Cape Cod DART, as she shows some of the items in his “Go Kit” including lead, food, vacination records, toys/comfort object, and a reflective vest. In an emergency, a pet owner can pick up the already-packed Go Kit and have everything the animal needs for several days. Photo by Teresa Martin.
Storms, fires, and other disasters happen and they can happen here and now. Images from the recent Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf coast provide a stark reminder that evacuees aren’t just human. In just one day during the storm, the National Humane Society reported it transported 133 dogs and 67 cats out of the area to emergency shelter.
We live with hurricane season, blizzards, high fire risk, and a myriad of other potential disasters every day. It may not have happened here this year yet, but if it does, no one wants their pet to have a starring role in “dog clings desperately to floating branch” news photos.
As Rogers told the group during her presentation, “Our animals can’t prepare for themselves. We need to do it for them.”
The Go Kit: Cats
Preparation takes just a few minutes of organization. DART calls the result a “Go Kit“, a collection of packed essentials for your pet that you can keep in the garage or near the pet food and grab it to go if you need to evacuate your home.
For cats, this includes you cat’s carrier, with a copy of his or her vaccination, vet, and address information and a photo of kitty attached to the carrier. Inside, stash a bag with a small cardboard box and a baggie with a few scoops of kitty litter- just enough to get kitty through a few days. Add in another baggie with three days worth of food, and a few cans of kitty’s best treat, along with a food and water bowl. As a final touch, drop in three packages or bottles of water.
The Go Kit: Dogs
For dogs, follow a similar process. Gather together vaccination records and photo, a non-retractable lead, a toy or comfort object, a treat or two, and three days of food and water and a food and water bowl. A reflective vest or collar makes another good addition to the kit.
Rogers also suggests adding some dry rice that you can cook up and feed Fido as an alternative in case your dog develops a bit intestinal distress, as can happen to stressed pups.
Ensure your dog has a collar and tag or is otherwise marked by name, as well. If you need to evacuate, you can easily grab Fido’s crate or carrier and his Go Kit, and he’ll have what he needs to survive for several days.
If you end up in an emergency shelter, the vaccination sheet becomes invaluable. As anyone who has ever boarded a pet knows, pets kept in proximity require certification of vaccination, and even in an emergency the rules hold.
Undocumented dogs and cats typically end up in a segregated section of an evacuation shelter; having documentation attached for your pet make his, and your, life easier. Your vet can print or email you an update sheet at your request, but the time to get it is now … not in the middle of a hurricane!
Pets on Cape have a place
In many regions, evacuation shelters have no provision for companion animals, but the Cape is different. Since DART launched in 2008, it has created a network of volunteers who, in coordination with regional emergency response, can create animal-friendly areas of the region’s evaluation centers.
In fact, five of the Cape’s six shelters have the capacity to take in animals along with their humans; only Barnstable lacks this ability. The actual number of animal areas open depends upon volunteer response in any given emergency.
The regional shelters also use an approach called “co-sheltering” which means you continue to take care of your pet yourself. Even though your pet stays in the animal section, you still feed and visit and take care of him or her — and you keep custody of your furry friend.
Common sense equals good sense
Rogers points out that preparedness really falls firmly into the category of common sense.
“Do you have a personal plan for your pets and your family if you had to leave your home on short notice?” she asked the group.
“What do you need to take? Where would you go?”
Upcoming Events in National Preparedness Month:
- Lessons Learned from 9/11
With Chrystal LaPine, Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office and responder on 9/11
Tues, Sept 11, noon 1-pm
Barnstable County Complex, Department of Health & Environment (top of the hill), 3195 Main Street, Barnstable Village
- Family Emergency Preparedness
With Touch-a-Truck Fire Trucks and Smokey the Bear. Build your family’s 72-hour emergency kit and more.
Friday, Sept 14, 2-6 pm
Old County Jail, 3195 Main Street, Barnstable Village
For more info on pet preparedness or to become a pet emergency volunteer: Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team (DART), 508-737-9467
MSPCA-Centerville and Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team Join Sandy Relief Efforts
November 16, 2012
Centerville, Mass., Nov. 16, 2012 – On Saturday, Nov. 17 The MSPCA-Centerville and the Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team (CCDART) will be collecting donated pet food and supplies to ship to New Jersey, where they will be distributed to areas in the state that have been hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, the two organizations announced today.
CCDART has rented a large van that will be parked outside the MSPCA-Centerville adoption center on Saturday between 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m.—during which time donated supplies will be packed and loaded. On Sunday, Nov. 18 the CCDART team will drive the supplies to the St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, which will direct the supplies to families in need as well as local pet food pantries.
The MSPCA has already pulled together a large and growing assembly of much-needed supplies to send including:
- More than a dozen cases of canned cat and dog food
- More than a dozen bags of dry cat and dog food
- 17 bags of cat litter
- More than 50 leashes, collars and harnesses
- 20 bags of cat and dog treats
- A big box of towels, bags of puppy pads and various cat toys
In addition the Cold Noses Foundation, an organization that offers grant programs to animal welfare charities, has donated $1,000 worth of pet supplies including dog and cat food, litter and toys.
Said Holly Rogers, President of Cape Cod DART: “Since our founding in 2008 we have assisted on the front lines of countless disasters, providing food and care to animals in distress. Our response to Sandy—and this partnership with the MSPCA—is one of our biggest and most challenging, given the enormity of the disaster and the number of animals in need. We are so thankful to those who have already donated and ask everyone on Cape Cod to please help by donating food and supplies to our cause.”
While it is impossible to know exactly how many companion animals have been killed, injured or displaced by Sandy, MSPCA and CCDART officials believe there are likely hundreds—if not thousands—of pets rendered homeless by the storm across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
How to Help
Supplies that are most in need include Nylabone dog toys, cat food (both wet and dry), cat litter and gift cards to major pet retailers (such as PetSmart). Anyone who wishes to donate may bring supplies to the MSPCA’s Cape Cod facility at 1577 Falmouth Road in Centerville. The center will be accepting donations during its business hours today (12:30p.m. – 3:30p.m.) and tomorrow from 12:00p.m. until 4:00p.m.
Anyone who wishes to donate money to fund CCDART’s ongoing mission to educate the public about disaster preparedness for companion animals, and supply trained volunteers to respond in times of crisis, can click here.
The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mspcaangell
Truro Animal Control to host Cape Cod DART seminar December 14
Truro Animal Control will host a Cape Cod DART (Disaster Animal Response Team) informational seminar on Saturday, December 14 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Truro Police Station.
Cape Cod DART is Barnstable County’s domestic animal response team in the event of a disaster. According to the DART website, the organization was founded in 2008 in response to the Federal Pets Act of 2006. In the event of a declared emergency, DART provides an array of emergency pet services including rescue, triage and temporary sheltering.
Made up completely of volunteers, DART follows FEMA’s Incident Command System.
During Saturday’s seminar, attendees will learn about the pet aspect of emergency planning and response, what DART members do and how to become a volunteer.
Anyone interested in attending is asked to either call or email the Truro Animal Control Officer at 508-246-5225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about DART, emergency preparedness and preparing an emergency go-kit for your animal on the DART site here.
Read Teresa Martin’s 2012 story about DART here.
Cape’s emergency planners learn from mistakes
As a massive snowstorm threatened Cape Cod in early February, local emergency planners chose to open only three of six regional shelters.
Power outages and cold weather continued in the days following the storm, stretching volunteer ranks thin and prompting increased criticism by residents in areas where shelters were left shuttered, especially in Hyannis.
“There were some concerns raised,” Barnstable Deputy Police Chief Craig Tamash said.
And despite a relatively quiet hurricane season so far this year, officials have redoubled their efforts to be better prepared.
One of the problems at the time of the February storm was that the regional shelter at Barnstable High School in Hyannis was not equipped to take pets. In addition, the school’s generator was not adequate for a shelter scenario, according to local officials.
Since then, the regional shelter in Hyannis has been moved from the high school to nearby Barnstable Intermediate School, volunteer recruitment efforts across the Cape have increased and emergency planners implemented a policy to open all six regional shelters during any Capewide events.
“We won’t make that mistake again,” Michael Whalen, Dennis police chief and co-chairman of the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee, said about limiting the number of shelters open during emergencies that affect the entire region.
The February storm showed the capabilities and shortcomings of Cape’s 5-year-old regional shelter system, Whalen said.
The storm tested planners’ assumptions about who would use the shelters. Many needed medical or other assistance, Whalen said.
Another big lesson was that generators at schools aren’t necessarily sufficient for a long-term sheltering situation, he said.
Rachel Potts with the American Red Cross recently arranged for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to inspect and report on the capacity of each generator being used at the shelters, Whalen said.
The regional planning committee is also trying to assist at satellite shelters that may be opened in Bourne on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal and in Provincetown, which could be cut off because of low-lying geography on the Lower Cape, Whalen said.
EMERGENCIES RAMP UP VOLUNTEER INTEREST
There were successes during the February storm.
An agreement with the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District to provide food services, including for other shelters as necessary, worked well during the last storm as did transportation assistance provided by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, Whalen said. AmeriCorps volunteers and the National Guard were crucial in the response, he said.
The volunteers who responded were heroes, sometimes staying on the job for days without relief, according to Whalen and other emergency officials.
But more are always needed, according to the leaders of the agencies which staff the regional shelters.
Ironically, they say, disasters help.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the February blizzard and the Boston Marathon bombings, the American Red Cross saw a 180 percent increase in volunteers across the organization’s eastern region.
There are now 2,048 Red Cross volunteers available in the eastern region, which includes 181 communities, Red Cross spokeswoman Kat Powers wrote in an email to the Times.
On the Cape, the Red Cross established recruiting teams and the recent string of emergencies helped boost interest, said Hilary Greene, Cape Cod and Islands chapter executive director.
“Last year was quite a year,” she said.
Cape Red Cross volunteers increased from less than 200 to 265, in addition to volunteers available off-Cape, Greene said.
But the Red Cross needs volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to house fires and other, smaller, emergencies, Greene said.
“It’s a different type of volunteer,” she said about volunteers needed for longer-term events like storms.
The Red Cross on Cape Cod has reached out to specific groups, including starting a training program for employees of large businesses on how to prepare for an emergency, starting with a partnership with Cape Air, she said.
“We are looking for more companies like that,” she said.
There is also a need, based on the experience in February, for more volunteers with backgrounds in health and mental health, she said.
Of the 1,153 people who came to shelters during the storm, 90 percent were over 80 years old, said Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps director Jean Roma.
“We had the World War II generation,” she said, adding that the demographics at shelters off-Cape were more balanced.
And volunteers on the Cape may not be around during the cold months, she said.
“They’re here for hurricane season, which has always been wonderful, and after the holidays they tend to leave,” she said.
The Medical Reserve Corps, which provides medical and nonmedical assistance during emergencies, has about 300 volunteers but typically only about 100 are active, Roma said. During the storm, she had about 29 nurses working 12-hour shifts, she said.
The group has added 37 volunteers since February but she can always use more, Roma said.
Those who do volunteer give it their all, she said.
Many of the volunteers are emergency room or practicing nurses and during the February storm they would often come to a shelter to help after a brief rest following their regular job, Roma said.
Although she tries to have volunteers on duty for only 12-hour shifts, in at least one case in Orleans a nurse worked for 52 hours with little rest during the storm, Roma said.
Now Roma says she’s looking for ways to schedule differently, including the possibility of short shifts to help relieve those who are on for longer stretches.
She’s also seeing neighborhoods preparing to help themselves and working with groups to ensure there are services at the shelter to assist people with special needs like the sight impaired.
Groups like the Cape’s Community Emergency Response Teams play a key role but with everyone looking for volunteers there’s a lot of competition, Roma said.
“We’re all struggling and there’s only so many volunteers to go around,” she said.
PROTECTING FURRY FRIENDS
Despite the challenges it faces, the Cape is far ahead of other parts of the state in working regionally to prepare for emergencies, Roma and other officials said.
“The resources are much greater than the town trying to do it themselves,” Barnstable Deputy Police Chief Tamash said.
This includes preparations for the peninsula’s furrier residents.
The Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team is holding six orientations in the next two months, said the group’s president and founder, Holly Rogers.
The group has between 30 and 35 volunteers, who help prepare the shelters so people can bring their pets, too, which is sometimes key to convincing them to come at all, Rogers said.
Volunteers train at area animal shelters but don’t necessarily have to work hands on with animals, she said.
Some man registration desks or help in other ways, she said.
Like everyone else who spoke to the Times for this story, Rogers said she could always use more volunteers.
Currently she has enough help, if all her volunteers are available, to man three of the six regional shelters for between 36 and 48 hours, Rogers said.
“The only thing that’s holding us back is a lack of volunteers,” she said.
In addition to all of the extra effort in the wake of the February storm, local emergency planners have done what they always do.
Supplies have been checked, cots repaired and inventories done, said Sean O’Brien, coordinator of the regional emergency planning committee.
“This is what we do every year,” O’Brien said. “It doesn’t matter what the storm is.”
Cape Cod DART sessions
Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team will hold one-day orientation sessions for anyone interested in learning about the Barnstable County Regional Sheltering Plan and the role the organization plays, as well as information on volunteering. Sessions are open to anyone over 18.
All sessions will run from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on the following dates:
Oct. 20: Mashpee fire station
Nov. 3: Chatham police station
Nov. 17: Dennis police station
Dec. 8: Yarmouth police station
Dec. 22: Eastham police station
Jan. 5: Falmouth fire station
For more information: www.capecoddart.org
During the recent historic floods in Tennessee, most residents near the swollen Mississippi River were evacuated to safety. But in the rush to get to higher ground, many had to abandon their pets, leaving volunteers — including many from Cape Cod — to rescue them from devastated homes and flooded streets. “The human element is bad, but there’s an animal tied to almost everybody,” Mashpee fire Capt. Joe Fellows said. Fellows, a 20-year veteran of the department and longtime volunteer with the Cape Cod Stranding Network, used vacation time May 9-17 to volunteer in Memphis, Tenn., with the American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services group. Organizations from the Cape also had a hand in saving the four-legged survivors of the floods, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team (DART). Every morning, volunteers woke up with the sun and didn’t rest until sundown, Fellows said. “All we saw was the hotel, the highway and the shelter,” said Holly Rogers, president and founder of Cape Cod DART. Rogers traveled with four other volunteers to Tennessee for a week, returning on May 21. Another DART volunteer went down three weeks ago, she said. Fellows and other search-and-rescue volunteers went through the neighborhoods north of Memphis, he said, sometimes checking homes based on neighbors’ tips that animals were still there. “We went from one place to the other, launching our little boats and basically going door to door,” he said. In the area he searched, which received the brunt of the damage from overflowing tributaries of the Mississippi, water reached up to first-floor windows, Fellows said. “It was mind-boggling to see a full bass boat just gunning down the street,” he said. Back at the makeshift shelter, housed in an office park she likened to Independence Park in Hyannis, around 35 volunteers from different organizations took care of about 170 animals that had been rescued, Rogers said. In the two weeks American Humane Association volunteers were in Tennessee, 192 animals were sheltered, spokesman Mark Stubis said. Of those, 50 were rescued by volunteers, including Fellows, who roamed the flooded streets of the Memphis suburbs, Stubis said. Happily, Rogers said, around a dozen pets were reunited with their owners while she was there, while others came to see their pets but chose to keep them sheltered while they found housing. Those reunions made the trip worthwhile despite difficult hours and sad times where sick or injured animals had to be euthanized, Rogers and Fellows said. “For some people, their pets were all they had left “» and they were simply overwhelmed that we were coming from all over the United States to help their pets come through this,” Rogers said.
The American Humane Association and volunteers from other organizations rescued and sheltered 192 animals in the recent Tennessee floods:
- 121 dogs, including 14 puppies
- 66 cats, including 11 kittens
- 1 hamster
- 2 birds
- 2 ducks
Source: American Humane Association