Conference addresses need to make community-based emergency plans for pets

March 16, 2011  //  

VDEM News Release

Virginia Department of Emergency Management
10501 Trade Court, Richmond, VA 23236

Robin Schmitz, VASART
(804) 346-2611

Bob Spieldenner, VDEM
(804) 897-6510


Conference addresses need to make community-based emergency plans for pets 

RICHMOND, VA –Local and state leaders will help local governments, volunteer organizations and individuals create Community Animal Response Teams at the 2010 Virginia State Animal Response Team Summit June 4 at John Tyler Community College in Chester, Va.

“A disaster always begins at a local level, and it is important for communities to be prepared to address the needs of companion animals in their localities,” said Peggy Allen, co-chair of VASART.  “Coordinated planning in advance of an emergency provides mutual benefits for the safety and well-being of both pets and their owners.”

The keynote speaker will be Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, who will speak about starting and continuing efforts to organize volunteer- based, animal disaster response capacity in their communities.

Other summit sessions will include discussions about the Commonwealth’s current pet sheltering capabilities, training and sheltering at the community level, how to use the Incident Command System at pet shelters, and how to start a CART.

Realizing that disaster assistance happens most effectively at the local level, VASART is building Community Animal Response Teams across the state.  Community coordinators will lead the development of teams of volunteers who will be trained and certified to assist with emergency response.

“Experience shows us that many pet owners are reluctant to evacuate without their pets,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  “Strengthening Virginia’s pet sheltering plan at the community level will help save lives.”

VASART serves as a unifying network of organizations, businesses, federal and state government agencies and individuals that support the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies affecting animals.  VASART works with organizations like the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, VDEM and others to coordinate assistance to evacuating pet-owners to find shelters and facilities that will accept pets in response to a governor-declaration of a state of emergency.

The summit agenda and registration are available at


Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund