Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

March 02, 2007

New Statewide Effort To Aid Emergency Response For Animals

Commissioner Introduces Creation of Empire State Animal Response Team

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the launch of an ambitious new training and education program conducted by the Empire State Animal Response Team (ESART). ESART is a private-public partnership that was created to serve as a unifying network of organizations, businesses and agencies that support the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from emergencies affecting animals. This partnership provides assistance to local municipalities for mitigation, planning, preparedness response and recovery activities for animals.

"Animals are a very important part of our society, and for many of us, are like family," the Commissioner said. "In times of emergencies, whether a single house fire or a flood that devastates an entire community, we want to make sure that our animals are included in the preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. ESART will train local response teams in order to ensure swift and effective response and recovery assistance to homes and businesses with animals."

Minimizing the personal loss or separation of animals from their owners during an emergency is only one of the benefits of this new program. ESART will also help decrease health and safety threats to humans and animals, minimize the economic impact, and can also help decrease the spread of disease during emergencies affecting animals.

Because disaster response begins and ends at the local level, ESART promotes and supports the creation of County Animal Response Teams (CARTs). CARTs are the actual responding units that would be activated and deployed by county emergency management offices to provide the initial assessment and response for animals affected by a disaster or emergency within their jurisdictions. When these resources are overwhelmed, or when specialized resources are needed, the county emergency manager can request support through the State Emergency Operations Center. ESARTís member agencies will be activated to aid in the coordination and deployment of additional resources.

John R. Gibb, Director of the State Emergency Management Office, said, "The creation of this state team will go a long way in enhancing the Stateís and a local communityís preparedness. We know that pet owners will many times jeopardize their own safety in order to look after their beloved animals. Incorporating plans for the safety of pets and service animals will, in turn, help enhance plans for the safety of their owners."

Kelly Nilsson, Director of New York State Disaster Response Services for the ASPCA, said, "The ASPCA is proud to be a member of the Empire State Animal Response Team and to assist in its efforts to mitigate animal suffering, death, and separation caused by emergencies and disasters. We are committed to work with our partner agencies such as the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the State Emergency Management Office to make this program a success."

ESART will provide support to CARTs through specialized training opportunities, planning guidance, additional resource coordination, and information concerning regulatory actions and best practices that may be useful to county teams. ESART is not a technical or field response unit. Specific training topics include technical animal rescue and recovery techniques, temporary sheltering planning, zoonotic disease awareness, and how to create a CART.

ESART is a collaborative effort of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the State Emergency Management Office, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the New York State Veterinary Medicine Society, the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University, and Cornell Cooperative Extension, USDA, the School of Public Health at the University of Albany, and the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

For more information on ESART, please visit

2007 Press Releases