Animal Investigation & Response holds orientation for people interested in responding to animal emergencies

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 3:58 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Volunteers and those working in animal rescue got training Sunday on how they can help animals during natural or man-made emergencies.

The SPCA of East Texas hosted the Animal Investigation & Response (AIR) team for a responder orientation. Current and new responders were there, so they can assist with animal emergencies in Texas when needed.

“Animals are very important to people, so when people are impacted by disasters, so are animals,” said Kim Meloncon, the director of emergency services. “So, it’s important to have resources for the animals and to have trained responders who can help the animals and then help the people who are affected by a natural disaster or a man-made disaster.”

Meloncon said there are many different response levels people can pick from. Today’s event was more of an introduction.

“There are certain responsibilities in disaster response, whether that’s search and rescue, animal search and rescue, or structure collapse rescue that require certifications in excess of what we’re doing,” Meloncon said. “Those people are highly trained and certified, and this class is more of an introduction for responders to do that.”

Responders learned about being in the field during an emergency and working in shelters once animals come in. Kat Cortelyou, the director of operations at the SPCA of East Texas, said it’s been a great training to offer to those in East Texas and surrounding areas.

“It’s super important because if you go out with a bunch of people that have the best intentions in their heart, but maybe, they don’t know exactly what it is they’re doing. It can become a liability,” Cortelyou said. “Someone can get hurt, or an animal can get hurt, and there’s so many different things that could happen. So, we’re getting everybody trained, so they’ll be able to help AIR. “Or if we need help, they can come and volunteer with us. That to me is worth a million dollars.”

Most of the calls that AIR responds to involve dogs and cats, but Meloncon said recently during the Upshur County tornado response, “We did assist with some cattle and horses that escaped their pens because the fences were damaged during the tornados.”

For more information on AIR or their training, visit their website.

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