CART: Community Animal Response Team

What would you do to care for your pet in the approach or wake of a catastrophe? Imagine that your area is in a state of emergency or has been hit by a natural disaster like a tornado, flood, fire, or storm. When you are told to evacuate, where do you take your animals to be safe? When your home has been destroyed, how do you intend to care for the pet you hold so dearly?

During Hurricane Katrina, some pet owners living in the path of the storm refused to evacuate their homes because they didn’t want to abandon their animals or leave them in harm’s way. Sadly, their choices put both the owners and the pets in danger. The solution to protecting both the pets and owners is to provide peace of mind for the owner while providing a safe place for their pets during disasters and emergencies. The goal of Virginia’s State Animal Response Team (SART) and Community Animal Response Teams (CARTs) is to ensure that pet owners never again have to choose between their pets and their own safety during a natural disaster.

The Virginia Tech CART is a disaster response team composed of students, staff, faculty, and other local volunteers from the Virginia Tech area. CART operates a pet shelter for dogs and cats of evacuees in the nearby State Managed Shelter (SMS) for one to four weeks following the disaster or state of emergency. Pet owners are housed nearby—a concept called co-sheltering—and visit their pets twice a day. The mission and services of CART cannot be achieved without volunteers willing to sacrifice their time and financial contributions to the cause.