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Class teaches how to save pets and people during disaster

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All About Animals

POSTED: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 6:32pm

UPDATED: Sunday, May 4, 2014 - 10:06pm

When a disaster happens sometimes animals need to be saved too. Animal control officers, veterinarians , and first responders from across South Louisiana spent the day on the water in Ventress, learning the skills they need to save animals and their owners during a water emergency.

"This is all based on trying to make sure we are taking people and their pets. So, that people don't stay behind, because they can't take their pets with them," Renee Poirrier, D.V.M, Director of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, said.

LSART hosted a five day animal rescue boot camp to train responders how to handle situations ranging from rescuing large animals, water rescue, and decontaminating animals. The group also partnered with LSU Vet School, and the ASPCA for the event.

Thursday's focus was water rescue.

"We do have a lot of flood water, so slack water is designed to help us take animals out of floodwater situations," Poirrier said.

Participants took part in search and rescue drills to practice getting stranded animals safely away from the water.

The group also focused learning how to save people.

"Sometimes whenever you're doing rescue for animals there may be a human in distress," Michelle Brignac, with St. Martin Parish Animal Services, said. "It teaches us how to handle that kind of situation. "

LSART instructors taught participants basic boat skills.

"Most of these people know how to handle animals," Poirrier, said. "A lot of them are not familiar with boats. Even if they're not the captain of the boat driving. They need to know a lot about how to start it and maneuver it."

Participants took turns practicing with tools to help pull people out of the water.

"Learn how to pick someone a person up out of the water and also an animal up out of the water. Get them safely in the boat without tipping the boat," Poirrier said.

Participants practiced wearing special dry suits.

"The dry suits are designed to protect them from the flood waters no matter what is in them," Poirrier said.

Poirrier explained during Hurricane Isaac LSART responders found animals that were rescued from Plaquemines Parish crews noticed the animals had irritation on their bodies where the water hit them. Poirrier said that inspired the group to add training to deal with decontamination to the boot camp.

Friday the group will take part in a special decontamination drill at LSU's Vet School.

The boot camp began Monday with a special two day class on how to handle large animal rescue.

LSART is a volunteer group made up of veterinarians, animal control officers, first responders, and other groups that help out during disasters in Louisiana to save animals.

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