LSU Emergency Animal Shelter

Disaster Response Manual

Operational Phase

Command Center    Operations    Planning    Logistics    Finance   

Planning Section

Volunteers / Volunteer coordinator
Veterinarian and veterinary technician scheduling and assignments
Veterinary licensure issues
Partners and support organizations

For a comprehensive overview of planning see The LSU Experience: Planning by Dr. David Senior

Volunteers / Volunteer coordinator

Task, function or purpose

  • Recruit, screen, and train volunteers
  • Supervise owner-pet visitation check-in and check-out
  • Volunteer well-being (communicate policies, etc.)
  • Manage “exit” store (dispersal of donated supplies to pet owners)

Staffing requirements

  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Volunteer manager
  • Volunteer recruiter
  • Volunteer trainer
  • Volunteers (number based on facility need)

Equipment needs

  • Phone
  • Computer
  • Office supplies
  • Tables, desks, chairs
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Volunteer break area and refreshments

Records, forms, checklists, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

  • LSU Emergency Animal Shelter For E-Mail To Solicit Volunteers (In Area)
  • LSU Emergency Animal Shelters For E-Mail Responses To Requests to Foster, Volunteer, or Donate Supplies
  • Volunteer Sign-in Log

Flow diagrams (paper flow; operations flow; people flow)

  • Volunteer Organizational Chart

Things that could be set up ahead of time

  • Volunteer recruitment and training
  • Equipment and supplies or quick sources
  • Forms and SOPs

Information sources

  • United States Public Health Service (USPHS)
  • Local community service organizations (e.g. churches)
  • National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters

The LSU Experience: Volunteers

Veterinarian and veterinary technician scheduling and assignments

Task, function or purpose

  • Determination of veterinary and veterinary technician manpower needs
  • Log in data of incoming staff: cell phone, e-mail, etc.  
  • Scheduling and orientation of veterinarians and veterinary technicians to defined assignments
  • Orientation of new veterinary staff
  • Consult with Operations Manager to assess the ever-changing manpower needs
  • Meet regularly with veterinarians and veterinary technicians to disseminate shelter progress and policy and to have them share institutional knowledge

Staffing requirements

  • One person on site at the Command Center
  • Alternate staff person who is able to fulfill role when primary person unavailable

Equipment needs

  • On-line computer with printer
  • Software: Word and Excel

Records, forms, checklists, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)

  • Orientation for Volunteering Veterinarians and Technicians
  • Veterinary Staff Job Descriptions
  • Responsibilities of Volunteer Veterinarians

Organization and flow diagrams

Things that could be set up ahead of time

  • Scheduling spreadsheets / bite protocols, etc. 
  • Computer equipment availability
  • Orientation policies

The LSU Experience: Veterinarian and Veterinary Technicians Scheduling and Assignment

Veterinary licensure issues

Dr. Pat Thistlewaithe

With the large influx of out-of-state veterinarians there was great concern for the illegality and liability and lack of oversight created by well-meaning veterinarians who were, in essence, practicing in Louisiana without a license.  Early on in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the state temporarily suspended the need for licensure for out-of-state health care professionals but this action did not extend to the veterinary profession.  Special provision for registration of out of state veterinarians was eventually recommended by the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine and the State Veterinarian in the LA Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry and subsequently mandated by Executive Order EO KBB 05-35 (available on line:  signed by Governor Blanco.  These procedures were approved initially to be in effect from September 9, 2005, to September 25, 2005, which was subsequently extended 30 days by the Governor's Executive Order KBB 05-43 ( once the need for more prolonged assistance became apparent.

To obtain temporary registration under these special provisions, veterinarians who had an active veterinary license in another state were required to 

1. Complete the appropriate form developed for this purpose and have the form notarized if it was not personally presented to the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine Office.  The forms and instructions were available on-line at or at the shelter.

2. Provide a copy of an active license to practice from the respective state and photo id (such as driver's license).

3. Fax a notarized copy of the application form, license card and photo id to the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine, or present these in person, or file online at

An explanation of terms of out of state registration can currently be found at

Note: As of this writing (April 2006) there is a bill (House Bill No. 846) before the Louisiana Legislature that "Authorizes temporary registration for health care professionals during a declared state of public health emergency".  If the bill passes, the Governor would declare a state of public health care emergency.  The respective board or commission would have the power to issue temporary registrations to licensed health care professionals who are current and in good standing in their state.  The Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine would be in charge of out-of-state veterinarians.

Also see the  LSU Experience: Out-of-State Veterinarian Licensure – by the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine

Partners and support organizations

These organizations are potential partners to assist in disaster situations.  Refer to Organization Resources under Preparation Phase in this document for ways in which these groups may help.  Also see The LSU Experience: Partners for organizations that assisted during Katrina (control + left click to follow the link).  Descriptions of organizations follow the list.

American Kennel Club (AKC)

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Offers an online disaster preparedness manual

Animal Control - consult local agency

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA)

Humane Society of the United States

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

National Animal Poison Control Center

National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters

Noah’s Wish

Pet Finders Lost pet matching service

Pet Harbor  Lost pet matching service

Police – consult local agency

State Animal Response Teams (SART)

State veterinary associations

United States Public Health Service (USPHS)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) / Animal Care (AC)

Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT)

Descriptions of organizations listed above (taken from each organization’s respective website): 

American Kennel Club (AKC)

Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

The ASPCA, the first humane society in North America and, today, one of the largest humane societies in the world, was founded by Henry Bergh and incorporated in 1866 to pursue the mission it still holds today: provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. Today the ASPCA continues its traditional role of preventing cruelty by direct action of law enforcement. In addition, however, the ASPCA recognizes that achieving its vision of humane communities across the United States requires education, advocacy and other forms of intervention that support the beneficial relationship between people and animals - especially companion animals.

Headquartered in New York City, local ASPCA direct services include Humane Law Enforcement, Animal Sheltering and Placement, Spay/Neuter, the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, Counseling Services, and Government Affairs and Public Policy. On the national level, the ASPCA supports the human/companion animal bond while fighting cruelty to animals through Regional Shelter Outreach including consultation, training and resources for the more than 5,000 animal shelters in the nation; Legislative Services for the passage of animal-friendly legislation at the state level; Veterinary Outreach in shelter medicine, veterinary forensics, animal abuse detection and reporting, and spay/neuter; and Humane Education. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and the Animal Behavior Center make the most current scientific information available through professionally staffed hotlines. 

The ASPCA offers an array of materials that promote humane attitudes and responsible pet care in children and adults including the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award™ winners, pet care books, lesson plans and activities for the classroom, and videos that promote safe and enjoyable interactions with pets. Also available are how-to manuals, training videos and other products for professionals working in animal welfare, covering such topics as animal cruelty investigation, shelter management, humane education, shelter medicine, effective adoption programs and animal protection laws.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Mission Statement: Improving Animal and Human Health, Advancing the Veterinary Medical Profession

Objective: The objective of the Association is to advance the science and art of veterinary medicine, including its relationship to public health, biological science, and agriculture.  The Association provides a forum for the discussion of issues of importance to the veterinary profession, and for the development of official positions.  The Association is the authorized voice for the profession in presenting its views to government, academia, agriculture, pet owners, the media, and other concerned publics.

Animal Control – consult local agency

Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) represents all veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada, eight departments of veterinary science, eight departments of comparative medicine, two animal medical centers, and three international colleges of veterinary medicine in its collective dealings with governmental bodies, veterinary medical organizations, the animal and human health industry, educational and scientific organizations and the public.

Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA)

FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.  FEMA's continuing mission is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.  FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Humane Society of the United States

The mission of the Humane Society of the United States is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals, including people, through education, advocacy, and the promotion of respect and compassion.  The HSUS is the nation’s largest and most powerful animal protection organization, working in the United States and abroad to defend the interests of animals.  We celebrate the human-animal bond, and we fight animal cruelty and abuse in all of its forms.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress.  IFAW seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people.

National Animal Poison Control Center

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is dedicated to helping animals exposed to potentially hazardous substances by providing 24-hour veterinary diagnostic and treatment recommendations.  The center is committed to protecting and improving the lives of animals through toxicology educational programs and non-traditional research.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has specially trained veterinary toxicologists on-duty around the clock.  We have an extensive collection of scientific journals and books as well as sophisticated databases available nowhere else.  The center's clinical experiences collected over the past ten years can be rapidly reviewed for diagnostic and treatment insight.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435.  A $55 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters

NVOAD coordinates planning efforts by many voluntary organizations responding to a disaster.  Member organizations provide more effective and less duplication in service by getting together before disasters strike.  Once disasters occur, NVOAD or an affiliated state VOAD encourages members and other voluntary agencies to convene on site.  This cooperative effort has proven to be the most effective way for a wide variety of volunteers and organizations to work together in a crisis. 

NVOAD serves member organizations through:

  • Communication –  disseminating information through electronic mechanisms, its Newsletter, the directory, research and demonstration, case studies, and critique.
  • Cooperation – creating a climate for cooperation at all levels (including grass roots) and providing information.
  • Coordination – coordinating policy among member organizations and serving as a liaison, advocate, and national voice.
  • Education – providing training and increasing awareness and preparedness in each organization.
  • Leadership Development – giving volunteer leaders training and support so as to build effective state VOAD organizations.
  • Mitigation – supporting the efforts of federal, state, and local agencies and governments and supporting appropriate legislation.
  • Convening Mechanisms – putting on seminars, meetings, board meetings, regional conferences, training programs, and local conferences.
  • Outreach – encouraging the formation of and giving guidance to state and regional voluntary organizations active in disaster relief.

Noah’s Wish

Noah's Wish is a not-for-profit, animal welfare organization, with a straightforward mission.  We exist to keep animals alive during disasters.  That's it. 

We are not involved in any other animal welfare issues.  It's not that we are not concerned about all the ways animals are abused and exploited.  Noah's Wish would like nothing more than to see all suffering stop.  Fortunately, there are a multitude of national and local animal welfare organizations which are tackling the issues that adversely affect animals.  No other organization has made the commitment though to just focus on disaster relief work for animals.  That's the void we are filling.

Noah's Wish came into existence in March 2002, not to duplicate existing efforts to help animals during earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, but rather to expand on what's already in place.  Too often, efforts to help animals during these life threatening situations have been gravely inadequate.  It would be unacceptable if relief efforts for people were as fragmented.  

Noah's Wish recognizes that animals need and deserve an organized, consistent, and professionally managed national disaster relief program.  Otherwise, they will continue to pay for human indifference with their lives.  What will raise the standards for how animals are managed during disasters is to implement well thought out, field-tested, policies and procedures that are practiced in all disasters.  Relief efforts for people are managed this way and we feel they should be for animals too.

Noah's Wish wants animals to survive disasters by getting the services they need, therefore, we have taken on the challenge to raise the standards.  What we have set out to do, no other organization has successfully done.  There have been countless attempts made, but the efforts have not gone far enough.  Noah's Wish has a great deal of work ahead of us, but we're confident in our ability and determination to get the job done.  What other choice do we have?

Pet Finders

On you can:

  • Post classified ads for lost or found pets, pets wanted, and pets needing homes
  • Search for adoptable pets
  • Locate shelters and rescue groups currently caring for adoptable pets
  • Browse our resource library and learn more about how to care for your pet
  • Sign up to be a volunteer to help your local shelter or rescue group

Pet Harbor  Lost pet matching service

Police – consult your local agency

State Animal Response Teams (SART)

State Animal Response Teams (SART) are interagency state organizations dedicated to preparing, planning, responding and recovering during animal emergencies in the United States.  SART is a public private partnership, joining government agencies with the private concerns around the common goal of animal issues during disasters.  SART programs train participants to facilitate a safe, environmentally sound and efficient response to animal emergencies on the local, county, state and federal level.  The teams are organized under the auspices of state and local emergency management utilizing the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS).

SART was founded in North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd, during which more than 3 million domestic and farm animals were lost.  Many could have been saved by a coordinated emergency response plan.

SART is based on the principles of the Incident Command System developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and involves a coordinated effort of over 30 government and animal organizations.  Using ICS as a set of core principles, SART develops units for addressing all aspects of disaster response.

SART structure is organized on the grassroots level with County Animal Response Teams (CART).  CARTs are under the jurisdiction of the county Emergency Management, and include animal control officers, cooperative extension, sheriff's personnel, veterinarians, forestry officers, animal industry leaders, and concerned citizens.

The Incident Command System (ICS) has been recognized by the Department of Homeland Security as the most effective system for managing emergencies.  This system has been universally adopted as part of the National Emergency Response System (NIMS).  SART recommends ICS 100 for all SART volunteers, in any position.  SART recommends ICS 200 for any field staff, and ICS 400 training for any command staff.  SART programs offer this training on the local level in cooperation with Emergency Management and the Fire Service.  Please check the calendar of events for training opportunities in your state.  Or, self-study courses are available online at

State Veterinary Associations  Follow the link for a list of all state veterinary associations current as of May 2006. 

United States Public Health Service (USPHS)

The mission of the Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps is to provide highly trained and mobile health professionals who carry out programs to promote the health of the nation, understand and prevent disease and injury, assure safe and effective drugs and medical devices, deliver health services to federal beneficiaries, and furnish health expertise in time of war or other national or international emergencies.  As one of the seven Uniformed Services of the United States, the PHS Commissioned Corps is a specialized career system designed to attract, develop, and retain health professionals who may be assigned to federal, state or local agencies or international organizations to accomplish its mission.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Animal Care (AC)

Animal Care Mission Statement: Animal Care (AC) provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals.  AC implements those standards and achieves compliance through inspection, education, and cooperative efforts.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.  This includes animals exhibited in zoos, circuses, and marine mammal facilities as well as pets transported on commercial airlines.  The AWA also prohibits staged dog fights, bear and raccoon baiting, and similar animal fighting ventures.  The law was first passed in 1966 and amended in 1970, 1976, 1985, and 1990.

In enforcing the AWA, Animal Care (AC) conducts randomly scheduled, unannounced inspections to ensure that all regulated facilities comply with the law.  If an inspection reveals deficiencies in meeting the AWA standards and regulations, the inspector instructs the facility to correct the problems within a given timeframe.  If deficiencies remain uncorrected at the follow-up inspection, AC documents the facility's deficiencies and considers possible legal action.  Such action could include fines and/or license suspensions or revocations.

In addition to the AWA, many state and local governments have passed animal welfare legislation.  The public is encouraged to work with federal, state, and local officials as well as local humane organizations to help eliminate inhumane treatment of animals.

Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT)

The VMAT mission is to support the local veterinary community in whatever way necessary to help it to resume its normal support of the community.  The VMAT has the capability of setting up a full field hospital, and can provide medical care for pets, search and rescue dogs, livestock, wildlife and even zoo animals if the need arises.  The VMAT may also be activated to assist with food safety concerns, zoonotic disease, terrorist events and toxicological problems.

VMATs are the only response teams recognized in the National Response Plan that provide veterinary medical treatment and address animal and public health issues resulting from natural, man-made, or any other type of disasters.  VMATs are available to assist the USDA in the control, treatment, and eradication of animal disease outbreaks.  VMATs must receive an invitation from the affected state in order to be deployed.  The local governor may make a disaster declaration and submit a request for federal assistance.  If the president then declares a disaster, federal resources are made available.  It is at this point that a request for VMAT assistance can be made.  If a state alone requests a VMAT, it will need to fund the response.  If a federal disaster is declared, the federal government covers a large part of the cost.

Any state that is interested in establishing a relationship with VMAT can contact the AVMA Assistance Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at 800-248-2862 ext. 6632 for more information.



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