OLATHE – The newly-formed Johnson County Animal Response Team (JoCART) is a volunteer-based organization that coordinates emergency animal sheltering and other animal welfare services in the event of a disaster that results in residents being evacuated from their homes.
Leaders from JoCART have worked directly with the Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, local animal control departments, veterinary workers, area non-profit animal welfare organizations and volunteer citizens, to put together a plan for the needs of domestic pets in the event of a large-scale emergency situation that includes evacuation of residents to emergency shelters.
According to Dan Robeson, assistant director of planning for Johnson County Emergency Management, “Animal welfare is an important component in the County’s Emergency Operations Plan (CEOP) that defines the policies, coordination, and roles and responsibilities required to meet the needs generated by a disaster in Johnson County.”
Pet owners, like other residents, may be forced to evacuate and should have a plan to take their pets or have a viable sheltering option. JoCART’s mission includes educating the public and having plans in place that address the welfare of animals during an evacuation emergency. Additional information about JoCART can be found at: www.jocartks.org. Volunteers are needed to become part of the Johnson County Animal Response Team. Interested citizens can access volunteer applications and registration forms through the JoCART website or email jocartks@gmail.com for more information.
“We need the public to get involved and be part of the solution should a disaster hit Kansas City,” said JoCART president, Dr. JC Burcham, DVM. “Community engagement in advance of serious incidents can make all the difference in how quickly and effectively we are able to respond to the needs of animals in a disaster. We are building a trained team of responders that will provide much value in the event of an emergency.”