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By Maddy Butcher Gray
Sometimes it takes a nightmare for us to wake up and take action.
That’s how a few of us got involved with our local CART (Community Animal Response Team).
For one of us, it was a trailer incident. The horse managed to jump over the chest bar and then got perilously stuck.
For me, it was an actual bad dream in which my horse fell through the pond ice.
In these the shaky, ‘Oh-Shit’ moments, the question quickly surfaces:
Who ya gonna call for a large animal crisis?
You might call the fire department.
The fire department, in turn, might call its local CART, a volunteer group certified by state agencies to help police and fire departments respond to animal emergencies and disasters.
CART teams are often trained to set up pet shelters and can have the crucial experience and equipment to handle an array of animals in crisis.
It would be nice to think that if you had an equine scare, a dozen of your horse buddies would be there immediately to help.
But the reality is: Probably Ain’t Gonna Happen.
Ok, they might show up. But will they have the Sawzall, rescue glide, and heavy duty webbing required to extract your horse from his predicament?
Good Samaritans might be able to help. But more and more often, they will hesitate for fear of liability. Sad to say: we live in a litigious country.
Think of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina as the national ‘Oh Shit’ moments. Since those epic disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has seen a surge in local CART and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) organizations.
These grassroots groups are the neighbors and Good Sams of yesteryear with one BIG difference: their asses are covered.
CART and CERT team members like myself have received many hours of fairly tedious training. It's essential, but not exactly adrenalin-inducing:
We’ve learned how to set up pet shelters.
We’ve learned how to do light search and rescue.
We’ve learned how to operate a fire extinguisher.
We’ve learned how to work within an Incident Command System (which means we toe the line within a rescue operation and don’t go rogue, trying to save the day singlehandedly.)
At our graduation, we got cake, soda, and a state-issued ID card identifying us as First Responders (our ticket past the velvet rope, er, yellow police tape of all emergency scenes)
If you’re lucky, your local CART members have some large animal training. On my CART team,
of the charter members have completed at least one course of
Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue
Maine is on a roll. In the past few years, its 16 counties have more and more CART and CERT teams. There is a big training jamboree in September.
Come join the fun and be part of the solution!
For more information, contact your county Emergency Management Agency or visit
Maine’s Emergency Management
View Reader Comments:
Great information article. I am the CART Liaison for Cumberland County Animal Response Team. We currently have 25-30 member who attend the monthly meetings. We have 18 members who have passed the CERT course and 6 who have had TLAER courese for large animals. Keep up the good work spreading the news.
Wondeful to see my good friend Tomas and, if I'm not mistaken, Dexter the llama!! I have been friends with both Gimenez's, Tomas and Rebecca for YEARS. rebcca jokes that she's seem more of me than her own family!! (Tomas has recently remarried, but they are still a TLAER team). Glad you all enjoyed the program. They are doing a great service providing comprhensive large animal rescue training (i.e."heads and legs are not handles!"). I've met Michelle Melaragno, who assists them up in this neck of the woods (TLAER's HQ is in SC). If you have the chance, ATTEND THIS PROGRAM! You won't regret a moment!!
Knox County is looking for additional members to join our group. We have a shortage of large animal people and really could use you! If you are interested please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Who could I contact about hosting/sponsoring a CART training course? TLAER does not have contact info on their site either.
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"An owner of a Tennessee Walking Horse once said that his horse reminded him of a lightning rod, for, as he rode, all the sorrows of his heart flowed down through the splendid muscles of his horse and were grounded in the earth." - Marguerite Henry
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