BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — We all know too well that when a disaster strikes, response and resources can make the difference in saving a life, including the lives of our animal companions. That’s the goal behind the Central California Animal Disaster Team.
“We started off with Central California Animal Disaster team, our first wildfire that we deployed to was the Carsons Fire in Mariposa,” said Naomi Tobias, CEO of CCADT. “Since then, we have responded to 38 wildfires in the Central Valley.”
Whether they’ve got feet, paws, or claws, CCADT want’s to make sure families remain whole during an emergency. Especially in a state where wildfires can decimate entire communities.
“A lot of these animals are family members to the people who are evacuating and we want to make sure we save all family members,” Tobias said.
CCADT is providing assistance for residents and agencies, ensuring the safety of people and pets, as well as offering much needed resources to animal shelters and communities during evacuations. The volunteer agency is able to provide makeshift shelters when community shelters become overwhelmed and works with first responders in order to safely rescue animals…
“At least, we can show them that their animals are safe, that their animals are cared for, and that’s one less thing for them to worry about,” Jeff Kermode, PIO for CCADT.
In the last decade, CCADT has responded to and assisted in the Erskine fire, the French fire, and the Stagecoach fire, where they opened a shelter in Tehachapi to help take in small pets.
“During a disaster, when the county becomes overwhelmed and can’t provide all of those services, CCADT is their mutual aid response partner,” Kermode said.
The group also knows that during these emergencies, people are scared and it’s part of their job to help calm those fears.
“We also know that people risk their lives to get back to their animals," Kermode said.
Volunteers within the organization not only play a vital role often helping to calm those pet owners, they also work hands-on with the animals to care for them, are trained to help handle livestock, and assist with community education and engagement. To become a volunteer, one must be 18 years or older, pass a background check, be in good physical and mental health and be willing to work shifts within a 24-hour cycle and on weekends.
For other volunteer requirements, check out CCADT's website here.