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IFAW trains animal rescuers for disasters

This week, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, more than 25 veterinarians, animal responders, animal control officers, and volunteers are acquiring new skills to rescue animals from disasters. The 'Advanced Animal Responder Boot Camp' is a five-day training sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).

The exercise will include first-of-a-kind instruction on animal search and rescue techniques in confined space rescue, structural collapse awareness, as well as land navigation and slack water rescue training.

Support for this program came from GreaterGood.org's Gifts That Give More (tm) program on The Animal Rescue Site, which donated critical funds aimed to improve animal rescue capacity in the Gulf Region.

"None of this would have been possible without their generous support," said Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Manager for Disasters. "This advanced training module will allow animal rescuers to be better prepared for the next disaster. We are thrilled to bring about this event in Louisiana, it's the third time we've been able to help provide essential training to responders in this State and we know it will translate into animal lives being saved in the future."

"The visitors to our website always respond generously to rescue animals in times of disaster," said Tim Kunin, CEO of The Animal Rescue Site and GreaterGood Network. "Programs like this are a vital part of fulfilling our mission to help animals in need."

In Louisiana, IFAW collaborates closely with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART). Other State and National groups involved in the trainings include the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, the Louisiana State University Fire and Emergency Training Institute (FETI), Mississippi Animal Response Team (MART), and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

"IFAW has been supporting these trainings for several years now and we are very grateful for that," said LSART Director Renee Poirrier. "This year it's exciting to see people coming in from across the State of Louisiana, from Mississippi, and from all over the country."

The State of Louisiana has bared the brunt of severe natural and man-made disasters in the last few years including Hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Likely tens of thousands of animals perished during these disasters. According to the official Consolidated Fish and Wildlife Collection Report, more than 6,000 birds, 600 sea turtles and 150 dead mammals died in the Gulf region during the oil spill.

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