A group that rescues and provides care for animals on P.E.I. says its new, refurbished ambulance will enable them to respond to calls more efficiently.
Emergency Animal Response Team Atlantic is a group of volunteers who help pet owners during events as large as a hurricane or as small as a flooded basement, said Ron McConnell, the president and public information officer.
"If people are forced to evacuate and they can't take their animals with them, our volunteers will go in, we will get their animals, we will bring them out if necessary and take care of them, shelter them, until it's safe for them to go back home."
The team has been operating on P.E.I. for about three years. When their services are needed, they usually receive a call from the Red Cross or Island EMS. They are trying to make themselves better known with police and fire services on P.E.I. as well, McConnell said.
Can now respond as a unit
McConnell said they have responded to seven or eight calls in the last six months. He said the new van will enable them to have all their equipment in one location, and respond as a unit instead of individually with their own vehicles.
"We are super excited. It is a used ambulance that we were able to purchase at a very good price that came basically equipped other than the stretchers and a couple of human-related items inside. And we are converting it."
When people are under stress and they have to, you know, react quickly, quite often they say, 'Well, I'm not leaving without my animals.' — Ron McConnell
The group is trying to raise about $10,000 to pay to refurbish the interior with specialized rescue equipment, McConnell said.
"We're looking at things like recovery items, traffic control items, safety equipment for our volunteers, things like safety helmets, vests, puncture proof gloves. If we happen to be picking up a cat or another animal that, you know, is nervous, and tends to bite, we want that type of equipment. We want to purchase personal flotation devices if we have to do water rescues during floods. The list is endless."
McConnell said anyone who wants to volunteer or donate to the cause can contact the group at www.emergencyanimalresponseteam.com.
He said the work is rewarding because people treat their pets like part of the family, and it gives them comfort knowing they are taken care of in an emergency.
"When people are under stress and they have to, you know, react quickly, quite often they say, 'Well, I'm not leaving without my animals,' and I know I would be in the same boat. So if we can offer that service, it will lower their stress level dramatically."
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