OMAHA (KPTM)-October 14, 2010, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of the Pottawattamie County Disaster Animal Response Team (PCDART).
At 18670 Applewood Road in Council Bluffs, you'll find a safe haven for dogs, cats, even livestock.
It's where the Pottawattamie Animal Shelter resides.
"We're developing a team of volunteers who would be trained to be able to respond to a disaster," said Pottawattamie County Supervisor Loren Knauss.
Knauss said these situations don't happen very often, but "when it does happen, you need trained people."
The PCDART will be trained through FEMA courses, as well as additional training, to help rescue animals during disasters such as tornadoes, floods and fires.
"It's going to take a very strong person. Not physically, but emotionally. This is not going to be a very positive work environment. I mean, this is going to be something that a person needs to be patient. They need to understand how they can help an animal by being calm and patient going into a scene," said Knauss.
Animal Control Director at the Pottawattamie Animal Shelter, Corbin Ranslen, agreed.
Ranslen said the animals currently at the shelter are strays, or from cases of neglect.
But come July, the shelter will serve as a safe haven to animals rescued from disaster areas.
"If anyone needs help, they can call the Animal Control Office at (712) 566-3233," said Ranslen, who added that he will be working closely with law enforcement agencies to rescue animals when needed.
Knauss said the PCDART is important.
"In a disaster, the primary mission for fire departments and law enforcement, and public safety is to save human life. And when they go into a scene, a lot of times there are animals that are displaced, injured or they could become a danger to those responders…those responders are not always trained to deal with animals. And they're trained to extract humans," he said.
Interested volunteers for the PCDART can apply online at Pottawattamie County's web site: www.pottcounty.com under the PCDART Department.
Before interviews with interested applicants, Pottawattamie County requires applicants to take free FEMA courses online.
Knauss said interviews will begin in December to allow for interested applicants to complete the required courses.
He added that team members will be ready for their additional training in January, and members of the PCDART will be ready to respond to any disaster by July 1, 2011.