To deal more effectively with animal issues when emergencies strike, several organizations in North Carolina have formed the State Animal Response Team (SART).

SART includes North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Emergency Management, animal industries, business continuity planners, environmental and animal humane groups.

“If we had had anything in place like SART in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd hit, we would have been able to dispose of all those dead poultry and swine within two weeks instead of six — and for one-tenth of the $10 million it cost the state,” says Ed Jones, DVM, associate state program leader for natural resources and community and rural development.

SART is charged with restoring animal production, handling animal feeding issues, abandoned animals, animal evacuation, aiding sick or injured animals and coordinating the disposal of dead livestock during a natural disaster.

SART Executive Director Jodi Jackson sees the coalition as a unifying effort that can serve as a model for other states. In fact, Tom McGinn, assistant state veterinarian, is traveling the country addressing other state groups on how to put together such an effort.

She points out one priority for North Carolina, and an issue McGinn is stressing during his presentations, is foreign animal disease and the threat posed by bio-terrorism.

“We are very concerned about the bio-terrorism issue because we have such a dense concentration of swine in North Carolina. We believe that foot-and-mouth disease could come here thousands of ways, and within 12 hours of infection, it could be spread to other states and countries,” says Jackson. From North Carolina, 20,000 hogs are shipped throughout the U.S. every day.

To learn more about SART, log on to www.ncsart.org.