The Cats Get Their Turn

On another deployment, a number of SMART volunteers were a part of a major cat rescue in Florida.

At the end of February, a number of animal welfare organizations worked together to round up close to 700 cats that were living in crowded and unsanitary conditions at a cat sanctuary known as the Caboodle Ranch. Many of the animals were suffering from upper respiratory and eye infections or other medical issues, while many others were in critical condition. This was the largest number of cats that the ASPCA has ever removed from one location as part of an animal cruelty investigation.

SMART’s own Manny Maciel assisted the ASPCA in the initial phases of this deployment, helping to find and capture many of the cats. Diane Treadwell helped to support the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) team during the first week and provided critical veterinary assistance, as well as helping with the initial setup of the shelter to house the poor cats during their transition. During the second week, Holly Rogers and Meg McDonough of Cape Cod DART and SMART provided additional support to the IFAW team.

Special thanks to all of you for helping to provide safety and comfort to an unbelievable number of cats!

SMART Takes the North Shore by Storm

On February 12, SMART held a special informational session at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen. More than 80 people took time out of their weekend to learn more about SMART and the possibility of establishing a disaster animal response team (DART) in Northeastern Massachusetts.

During this session, we discussed:

  • the nature of disaster response
  • how to be prepared
  • how volunteers are deployed
  • the types of situations where our help might be needed
  • the types of SMART teams and what they do
  •  how to become a SMART volunteer

Our partner organization, the American Red Cross, also spoke about how we all need to work together in responding to emergencies.

Special thanks go to Dr. Rachel Klopfer and Chris Arnott for setting up this session and for working to establish an animal response team in this region. We’d also like to thank Stachey’s Pizza of Salem, New Hampshire, for generously contributing lunch for an overwhelming number of participants.

Since that meeting, many of the folks who participated have joined our mailing list and/or become SMART volunteers. If you’re one of them, welcome aboard!

Volunteer Spotlight

Given the amount of activity that has been going on over the last six months or so, there are two volunteers that we would like to acknowledge for going above and beyond the call of duty in supporting or representing SMART.

Frank Taylor is our IT superstar. He has built an absolutely amazing online intake system that we can eventually utilize at any emergency shelter that we set up. It streamlines the intake process and will ultimately help to get animals into the shelter and settled in their temporary digs as quickly as possible, minimizing the stress for all involved.

In addition, Frank has built our new database and is helping us over the speed bumps associated with any system implementation. This new database is absolutely critical to our being able to respond quickly in an emergency, to keep our contacts informed and to deploy the right resources.

Both projects have required a great deal of time and effort on Frank’s part. We cannot thank him enough.

Diane Treadwell is one of our volunteers from Marblehead. Her experience as an animal control officer and with other animal-related work has brought a wide range of skills to our organization. Over the last few months, Diane has been deployed twice as a SMART volunteer working on a team with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In November, she assisted in the second week of the puppy mill response in Arkansas. Diane assisted in a variety of ways: caring for animals in the shelter and in isolation, establishing more efficient processes and assisting the veterinary team.

Most recently, Diane was part of the IFAW team that responded to a large cat rescue situation in Florida. She was there during the first week when the focus was on rescuing close to 700 cats. Her tasks included getting them triaged, providing immediate veterinary care and getting them settled in to their temporary housing. This was an extremely challenging situation, and Diane did an exemplary job.

Kudos to both Frank and Diane for helping us to become a stronger organization and, most importantly, for enabling us to better serve animals in difficult situations. After all, that’s why we’re here.

New Training Plan on the Way

We’re getting ready to roll out a new training plan for 2012 that addresses basic requirements for being a SMART volunteer. In addition, the SMART teams will identify other trainings that will be pertinent to their tasks. As soon as everything is finalized, we’ll communicate the training schedule so that you can plan ahead. Stay tuned!

Disaster Supplies

SMART has been working behind the scenes to distribute equipment and supplies for emergency animal sheltering around the state. We have received a number of grants that have allowed us to provide basic sheltering supplies, emergency generators and large animal supplies. We will continue to grow our stores of supplies and establish similar caches throughout Massachusetts. These ongoing efforts will help ensure that we are prepared to set up emergency animal shelters wherever they may be needed.

Special thanks go to our donors:

  • Pegasus Foundation
  • ASPCA
  • Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
  • MVMA Charities
  • Especially for Pets
  • Campbell Veterinary Supply
  • Spectrum Surgical
  • Printworks of Hopkinton
  • And our generous individual donors

Help Wanted

As SMART has become a larger organization and as our volunteer base has grown, it has become apparent to us that we need to have someone dedicated managing ongoing communications with our volunteers. If you are interested in this new volunteer communication coordinator role (or know of someone who might be), please contact us at volunteers@smartma.org.

SMART Helps 175 Dogs as Part of Puppy Mill Seizure

The State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) recently extended its efforts on behalf of animals some 1,500 miles southwest of Massachusetts. Seven SMART volunteers answered a call to help 175 small-breed dogs who were rescued from a puppy mill in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

SMART volunteer Scott Facey and one of the dogs rescued from the Arkansas puppy mill. Photo courtesy of IFAW.

Local authorities began investigating the substandard commercial breeding facility more than two years ago. Last November, the Garland County Sheriff’s Department issued a search warrant for the ironically named Happy Times Kennel and recruited the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to help collect more evidence and care for the dogs. The Massachusetts-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) assisted the ASPCA with on-site forensic work and the removal and sheltering of the dogs. SMART provided a number of volunteers to the various IFAW teams.

The dogs — mainly small breeds such as Chihuahuas, West Highland white terriers, Boston terriers, and dachshunds — were found living in deplorable conditions at the kennel. Many of the pregnant dogs and newborn puppies showed signs of neglect, including malnourishment, severe skin problems, and flea infestation. Investigators also discovered dead dogs on the property.

All the animals were seized under the search warrant, and the kennel owner was arrested on three felony counts of cruelty to animals.

Manny Maciel, a SMART volunteer and board member, assisted the ASPCA with the initial seizure. SMART volunteers Scott Facey, Jim Helems, Emilio Knox, Cheryl Noroian, Sharon O’Keefe, and Diane Treadwell helped IFAW get the seized dogs settled at a temporary shelter and then two months later assisted with transporting the dogs to various ASPCA partners in the Northeast for adoption into their forever homes.

SMART is part of IFAW’s Emergency Response Network (ERN), a nationwide collaboration of various animal response teams, who help to provide support and staffing for larger scale deployments. “SMART is a valued member of our ERN. I know when I send out a request for response support that the list of potential volunteers I receive from SMART are skilled and prepared to support our mission. IFAW is proud to work with SMART to help animals in crisis here in Massachusetts and around the country,” says Shannon Walajtys, IFAW disaster response manager.

This ongoing collaboration not only benefits countless animals in need but also helps IFAW with additional deployment support and the local organizations get invaluable hands-on experience with different kinds of animal rescues.

Says David Schwarz, president of the SMART board of directors: “We get invaluable experience in the day-to-day setup, management, and demobilization of an emergency shelter, as well as in situations not commonly encountered in Massachusetts. We also benefit from seeing how different organizations run animal-response efforts and from meeting incredible, dedicated people from all over the U.S.”

This type of arrangement is a win-win for all involved and is a great opportunity to build experience. If you think you’d like to join one of these deployments in the future, please be sure to complete the ICS 100 and NIMS 700 training programs as both are required for any deployment, inside or outside of the state of Massachusetts.

SMART’s Update on Hurricane Irene

As Irene recedes into memory and we all breathe a sigh of relief, it’s a good opportunity to let everyone know how SMART responded in this emergency situation.

As of last Saturday evening, we had animal shelters set up and staffed in Salem, Attleboro and Bridgewater.  These were co-sheltering situations with the American Red Cross, where the humans were sheltered in one part of the facility and their animal companions were sheltered in another.  Because the storm downgraded before hitting our state, the extent of the emergency and the number of people seeking shelter was minimal.  Even still, we provided safe haven for a number of cats, dogs and a chinchilla.

In addition, the state activated the large shelter at MMR (the Mass Military Reservation) on the Cape.  This was also a co-sheltering situation with a team of 8 people in place to insure that the animal needs were met.

In Weymouth, we did not have a shelter but were an onsite presence to help direct anyone may have arrived at the human shelter with their pets to an offsite location.

CMDART provided the shelter support for the Central part of the state and SMART provided additional support to the local Emergency Manager in Greenfield as well.

At this point, all of the animal shelters that were set up in Eastern Mass in response to Irene have been demobilized.

This was the largest, most extensive response that SMART has yet experienced. The fact that we had such an active presence in so many locations is indicative of all of our hard work over the last few years and, in particular, the goodwill and reputation generated by our volunteers in the field during previous responses.

Thanks to all of you who volunteered to be available this past weekend and special thanks to IFAW for helping to supplement our resource needs!!