The Salmon Arm branch of ALERT Canada, an organization committed to domestic animal care in disaster situations, is offering a training course May 26 covering the administrative and reception responsibilities of their organization during disasters. (Image credit: ALERT Canada)

Salmon Arm ALERT offers training for animal evacuation volunteers

Course teaches skills required to coordinate pet rescue in disasters

The Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team Society (ALERT) is hosting a course in Salmon Arm on May 26 centred around the administrative processes involved in rescuing and caring for animals in the wake of disaster situations.

The course involves learning the ropes of working in the administration and reception centres during a disaster when ALERT is called in to assist with rescuing and caring for domestic animals. This is an important factor in coordinating efforts within ALERT and between other emergency services working disaster response.

Information will be provided on registering families, tracking and recording what is going on and coordinating with emergency support services. The course will be held May 26 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Salmon Arm GM board room at 3901-11 Avenue NE, and there is a $35 fee per person registered. Those interested can register before May 18 via email to

Margaret Oxley, team lead with the Shuswap ALERT branch, says the course aims to showcase what happens when the calls for assistance start coming in.

“The training course shows part of the administrative setup in a reception centre when a disaster hits. It’s how ALERT works with emergency social services and the emergency operations centre when we’re called in,” she says. “It does cover a lot in a short period of time. It’s an overview and short training course on how we register the families, what happens in a disaster, what it looks like and all the logistics that go with it.”

However, she also notes that the nature of ALERT’s work, in the midst of disasters such as fire and flood, requires “a lot of learning on the fly… nothing is ever the same twice, but it is silly for us not to be prepared.”

ALERT volunteers’ role in the field, however, goes far beyond administrative work, often putting their boots on the ground in dangerous situations.

“We are trained and we get escorted in to deal with situations,” Oxley says. “I had the chance to do that during the Joe Rich fire, to go in and feed livestock that was left behind. We also rescued a dog that had been left in a house, the woman was in town when the evac order came up and she couldn’t get back… that was a teary reunion for everybody!”

Related: Community rallies for displaced Joe Rich pets

ALERT works closely with emergency support services in the event of natural disasters such as wild fires and flooding to ensure domestic animals are accounted for, looked after and reunited with their caregivers. They set up animal relief shelters, evacuate animals from dangerous areas, coordinate veterinary services and document the entire process to ensure animals are reunited with their owners.



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Baird is one of the many pets that has been cared for in disaster situations by the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team. (Image credit: ALERT Canada)

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