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In May 1995, Indiana became the first state in the nation to recognize a veterinary response network as part of the state's official emergency management plan. Known as SAVE (State Annex for Veterinary Emergencies), the network is managed by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. SAVE is comprised of state, federal and private animal health and care experts and others who are willing to respond to meet the needs of animals and their owners in governor-declared disaster situations.
Volunteer responders perform a variety of necessary tasks, including:
-Rescue and capture stranded or abandoned animals,
-Treat and triage injured animals,
-Feed and house, temporarily, displaced animals,
-Identify and reunite animals separated from their owners, and
-Dispose of dead animals that may pose public health problems.
How to Become a SAVE Volunteer
Because not every disaster is large enough to earn a governor's declaration, readiness and planning at the local level is essential. Before the state will declare a disaster, all essential local resources must be exhausted. Likewise, before a federal declaration can be made, state resources must be expended. By preparing locally, members of a community can respond to all situations, even when state resources are not yet available.
BOAH encourages communities to develop local, trained animal response teams to coordinate efforts during an emergency. Individuals with experience, expertise and/or an interest in assisting animals in disaster situations should contact the county emergency management agency to discuss preparedness plans. Local Purdue Extension Service educators are also another excellent source of information.
Emergency managers in many Indiana counties are working to incorporate a local animal care plan into local response protocols, to bring their counties into alignment with the state's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. In many cases, those local emergency managers are seeking volunteers to be part of the planning and/or response process.
Local plans are based on Indiana's statewide plan. Because every county has its own set of risks and susceptible populations, each needs its own customized emergency plan. The animal-oriented section of the plan is no different. Rural areas, where livestock is common, have very different needs compared to urban and suburban regions. BOAH staff are available to assist in the local planning process to ensure a workable plan is adopted.
The following link provides access to a workbook used in the "Animal Issues in Disasters" training course. This workbook, when completed in coordination with the local emergency manager, provides a starting point to answer the key questions about what needs to be done, who needs to complete each task and how activities will be accomplished.
For more information on participating in the "Animal Issues in Disasters" class, contact BOAH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education and Awareness
The work of SAVE volunteers begins before a disaster strikes. Only through public education and awareness will animal owners understand that they bear the ultimate responsibility for caring for their pets and livestock before, during and after a disaster.
Local animal-oriented businesses and service groups are ideal avenues for communicating this message to the animal-owning public. Information and resources for educating the public is available by contacting the Board of Animal Health at email@example.com.
Make a Donation to Help Animals in Disasters
The Indiana Animal Health Foundation is a non-profit fund to which monetary donations can be made to help feed, shelter and treat Hoosier animals in disaster situations.