Centre County Animal Response team urges continued state funding

mmorgan@centredaily.comFebruary 18, 2014 

— In Centre County cases of emergency, humans won’t be the only ones receiving aid.

The Centre County Animal Response Team is ready to be dispatched to help keep animals safe, coordinator Jennifer Johnson told the board of commissioners at its meeting Tuesday.

Johnson said the local volunteer team isn’t dispatched for small humane matters like other animal cruelty agencies.

“We are designed to rescue animals at a large-scale situation,” she said, citing examples like house and barn fires, natural disasters or barn collapses.

The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team has been in place since 2005, but the local group has only been dispatched once.

In 2008, Centre County’s team assisted in Clearfield County to control three Texas longhorn cows that had escaped from a trailer. She said they were able to catch the animals with bread, preventing them from causing damage to humans or vehicles.

Though it’s not dispatched very often, Johnson said it’s important to have the team on standby. The program is largely funded through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Johnson encouraged legislators to continue funding the program with state dollars for all of Pennsylvania’s counties that have the teams.

She added that the program can always use more service and resource volunteers. Service volunteers are dispatched in the event of emergencies and resource volunteers can provide shelters like a barn. She said the Grange fairgrounds can be used to store animals if needed.

Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem said the program is important and commended the volunteers for their efforts.

“This is not a small endeavor that you’ve taken on, and certainly we appreciate your service to our citizens — both two- and four-legged,” he said.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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