An emergency animal rescue team is in place for Summerland and the surrounding area, providing assistance during emergencies and natural disasters.
At the regular meeting of Emergency Support Services on March 12, John Topham, director of ESS announced that the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team will be the emergency animal rescue team for the area.
Volunteers with Alert have provided assistance in the area in the past.
In 1994, following the Penticton Garnet Fire, volunteers from Summerland travelled to the United States for training with the United Animal Nations.
Those volunteers also created the base for emergency animal rescue throughout British Columbia.
The group, previously known as ESS Pet Services, Noah’s Wish and CDART, will be encouraging local individuals to join the team by becoming members.
Upcoming training for new volunteer members is scheduled for March 30 in Osoyoos and April2 7 in Peachland.
Registration forms are available online at www.alertcanada.org, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling or texting Alert commander Deborah McBride at 250-809-7152.
At Alert’s last annual general meeting, the group created a special category for interim volunteers to include haulers and swampers, vitally important during initial evacuations of farm animals.
Interim volunteers are required to meet specific standards.
Alert also has a supporting member category for those who wish to offer support but not volunteer during emergencies and disasters.
Ogopogo Tours of Summerland became the first corporate member of the society in 2018.
In all categories of membership, interested individuals are encouraged to make inquiries as quickly as possible to get ready for any responses in the Summerland area. The Alert South Okanagan team meets on the first Wednesday each month at Fire Hall #1 in Penticton.
Volunteers learn about different animal species and their care. Presentations have included felines, canines, bio-security, naloxen, microchip reading, fishtank siphoning, feeding baby goats, cat trapping, breaking windows, providing oxygen, haltering horses, slip leads for dogs, printing photos from phones, and evacuating bees.
“We need volunteers with a variety of skill sets,” McBride said.
“That includes people who like to do paperwork, social media skills in addition to special abilities with animal species. Many positions are busier during non-disaster times. Risk Assessments, doing home visits for foster homes and emergency preparedness take a lot of time during those quieter times but never during actual events.”
Alert volunteers are preparing themselves for flooding throughout the South Okanagan.
Alert and ESS are encouraging families to make sure that they start working on their emergency plans and to ensure that they include their animals in that plan.
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