Jessamine County Animal Control is looking for dedicated people to help man the brand-new mobile disaster and emergency animal shelter.
The county is the first in the commonwealth to receive and utilize the mobile shelter, but more counties are expected to get them in the future.
“Still, we need volunteers though,” animal-control officer Frank Ruggiero said. “We have about 12 now, but you can never have enough.”
The mobile animal shelter was purchased through a grant by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP).
The $30,000-plus multi-function trailer will help Jessamine County Animal Control assist disaster victims and come into compliance with the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS).
PETS is a bipartisan initiative that requires states seeking federal emergency-funds assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters.
“It was Katrina that was really a wake-up call and got all this started,” Ruggiero said. “But with this unit, we can help with events such as what happened at West Liberty and other disasters in our neighboring counties.”
The primary purpose of the mobile station is to establish a co-located emergency shelter for Jessamine County, which is simply a pet-friendly shelter where evacuees can go for help during times of natural or man-made disasters.
Jessamine County’s disaster trailer also serves another beneficial purpose as a mobile adoption unit, Ruggiero said. While the trailer has to be available to respond to disasters, the trailer can be utilized by animal care and control as a means to find homeless animals in Jessamine County permanent placements.
The trailer has made appearances at local businesses and has also been scheduled for several events like the High Bridge Homecoming Festival. It is also slated to be at the library on Sunday for a mobile adoption.
While animal care and control has a staff of trained professionals that will be available to respond if a disaster were to occur, the department depends on members of the community to volunteer their time to assist with their duties, Ruggiero said.
“The first requirement is that a person has compassion for animals and their welfare,” Ruggiero said. “That’s the kind of person we’re looking for.”
The department is always accepting applications for volunteers to assist with the various functions of the shelter or to assist with mobile adoption events. Ruggiero said there really was no age limit but there are some free-of-charge, online trainings to become ICS/NIMS certified.
That way, if Jessamine County were to undergo a disaster, this team of volunteers would be trained to operate the disaster shelter. Ruggiero also said that if called into action, some volunteers may be required to travel and stay overnight in extreme circumstances. Training will most likely be Sunday nights or Tuesday afternoons and will be given by Jessamine County Animal Care and Control, Jessamine County Emergency Management and the Nicholasville Fire Department.
Interested people can apply to be a member of this team by visiting the Jessamine County Animal Shelter, located at 120 Fairground Way, or by contacting Ruggiero at firstname.lastname@example.org.