EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — As evacuation orders are being issued in El Dorado County, California, PAWS of Jackson Hole’s Program Director and Disaster Animal Response Team Leader, Jess Farr prepares to deploy to the area as part of a partnership with American Humane.

American Humane provides state-of-the-art emergency animal sheltering and disaster preparedness to evacuation sites throughout the world during disasters.

PAWS created the local Disaster Animal Response Team in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

PAWS created the local Disaster Animal Response Team in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. During that disaster, hundreds of thousands of pets perished because pets were banned from entering evacuation shelters designed for people. Shortly after, The PETS Act federal law was passed stipulating that in order for municipalities to receive federal funding for disaster relief, those plans must account for the needs of individuals with household pets.

Since then, more than 30 states have amended their disaster relief plans to serve the needs of companion animals. PAWS DART (Disaster Animal Response Team) now has an MOU in place and is part of Teton County Emergency Management’s disaster response. This team reports to Teton County’s Incident Command and is trained and prepared to set up a temporary animal shelter in Teton County, Wyoming, and Teton County, Idaho during a local disaster.

“Deploying to a national disaster with American Humane has always been a goal of mine. We have always wanted to get firsthand experience in an emergency shelter, not only to help other communities in crisis but to gain knowledge and practice skills so we are fully prepared if there is ever a local evacuation”, said Jess Farr.

Farr will initially be assisting with the evacuation of animals brought in by animal control officers to Douglas County Animal Services in Gardnerville, NV. From there she will assist in transporting pets out of the fire zone to safety.

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Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.