October 2006 

The State Animal Response Teams (SART) recently announced the launch of the Maryland State Animal Response Team (MD SART). The training and certification process was partially funded through a $20,000 development grant from PetSmart Charities and administered through SART.

Founded in 1999, State Animal Response Teams (SART) is a collaboration of interagency state organizations and private animal interests dedicated to ensuring animal welfare during disasters. The SART model utilizes the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS) to train participants to facilitate a safe, environmentally sound and efficient response to animal emergencies on the local, county, state and federal level.

A stakeholder conference and training session was attended by 115 individuals and conducted by North Carolina SART (NC- SART) on Aug. 16-17 in Linthicum Heights. Participating stakeholders included representatives from such agencies and organizations as the Federal and State of Maryland Departments of Agriculture, Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, County Animal Control Agencies represented by Professional Animal Workers’ Society, the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, the Center for Agrosecurity and Emergency Management at the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams, the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, the Essex Community College Veterinary Technicians Program, and various non-profit humane organizations.

With help from Dr. Jacob Casper, coordinator of disaster services for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the stakeholders successfully completed a two-day training session and a review of Maryland’s existing animal disaster plan. The participants then began development of a resource typing document, a database of potential volunteers and supplies for the new organization.

An executive committee board of directors for the incorporated 501c3 SART was formed, and with the assistance of NCSART, development of the new organization was completed. “Participation of Maryland’s SART volunteers will greatly enhance the capability of the Maryland Department of Agriculture to respond to any animal issue during a disaster,” said Maryland State Veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus.

After completion of planning and training, Maryland will join current SARTs in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Mississippi. Louisiana,Texas, Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia are in the process of developing SARTs.