Posted Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The Morris County Office of Emergency Management has received a grant from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to help educate pet owners about protecting their pets in the event of a disaster.

The grant, in the amount of $13,333, will be used by the Morris County Community Animal Response Team to purchase supplies, equipment and educational materials designed to improve the chances of pet owners and their pets of making it safely through a natural or man-made disaster.

MC CART, as the Morris team is known, is a group of trained volunteers, government agencies, private sector and other entities that is charged with developing a animal emergency response plan and serves as first responders to animal issues in a catastrophe, said Scott DiGiralomo, director of the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety.

“The team’s responsibilities include the protection of both wild and domesticated animals, search and rescue, veterinary services, sheltering and transportation,” Digiralomo said. “Protecting the public’s health, the public food supply and the environment are also among the team’s goals if disaster strikes.”

The NJDA, the state agency responsible for animals in disasters, is working to have similar teams in each New Jersey county, he said.

Morris will use the grant money to raise public awareness about the importance of pet owners to plan ahead and develop a disaster plan for themselves and their pets, said Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana, freeholder liaison to the county’s Office of Emergency Management.

“A natural disaster such as flooding or a man-made incident such as a gas leak or fire can occur with little or no warning,” Cabana said. “If evacuation is necessary, it’s important for animal owners to have an emergency plan in place, not only for themselves, but for their pets as well.”

Additional information about pet preparedness or MC CART may be obtained by contacting the Morris County Office of Emergency Management at 973-829-8600.