If a tornado were to hit and demolish most of Newton, what would happen to the cats, dogs and other pets in homes across the city? Where can people take them for shelter, and how will they receive emergency veterinary care?
These are the questions the emergency animal response team from Harvey County, and other emergency responders across the state, will be asking during an upcoming training exercise simulating a tornado strike.
"They're going to run it as if an actual disaster has occurred," Jennifer Burns, an animal control officer with the Newton Police Department, said. "... The goal is to be as close as we can be. It's a good chance to practice what we would do."
The event is from 1-5 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Department of Safety, 2100 Ohio St. Rd. in Augusta. Volunteers are asked to arrive between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Those who have not already trained as animal responders are welcome to come and observe.
Groups participating in the event include: Community Emergency Response Teams from Butler, Sedgwick and Cowley counties; the Butler County Search and Rescue Team and K-9 Search and Rescue of Kansas Team; regional animal response teams, including a team from Harvey County; volunteers from K-State; and Butler County Community College medical students. Butler County 4-H members also have volunteered to serve as mock "victims."
Volunteer responders will have to get "badged" once they arrive "on scene." Volunteers will respond to a stray pet found in a field, and 4-H families will bring pets to a mock shelter. Animals will be examined by vets and properly "identified" so they can be reclaimed by their owners later. Volunteers will be working with real dogs and other animals during the training.
Christy Million with Caring Hands Humane Society is looking forward to the training, which is the first animal response exercise of its kind for the south-central region of Kansas. She hopes Harvey County will be represented by a group of seven to eight volunteers at the event.
She said the exercise is a good opportunity to network with other emergency responders and to combine resources so they can have the most realistic training possible.
"Our goal as a region is to have something like this once a year," Million said.
Interested in becoming an animal response volunteer? Visit www.kssart.org.