State policing institute plans for animals in disasters

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The Illinois Regional Institute for Community Policing will develop and implement programs that ensure coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for individuals, communities, and agencies effecting the well-being and safety of animals during a disaster. The emergency response plan will serve as a model for national use.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will partner with RICP on the project, called Animal Rescue and Restore.

The project was made possible through a $1,516,040 grant to the RICP from the Department of Homeland Security.

"If disaster planning does not take into account the unique bond between people and the animals they consider family, then planning falls tragically short," said Patricia Rushing, interim director of the RICP. "It is time to expand collaboration, communication, and cooperation for more successful all-hazard planning and response."

Ed Sayres, president of the ASPCA, said, "Recognizing the need for emergency planning at the personal, community, state, and national level is the first step in the creation of evacuation protocols involving animals. We are very excited about the opportunity to assist the RICP in the creation of these protocols, (which) will elevate our communities as humane entities."

Highlights from the three-year program will include training community teams to develop and maintain emergency operation plans and developing procedures to inform and educate the public of the need to be prepared to care for their animals during disasters. Another highlight will be the assembling of a Project Advisory Committee made up of emergency response professionals, members of the veterinary community, animal welfare groups, the media, and content experts.

Based in Springfield, Ill., RICP is part of a national network of 26 institutes across the country and is supported by the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. In Illinois, the RICP is part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and is a collaborative partnership between the Illinois State Police, Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, and Illinois Center for Violence Prevention, Chicago.