Being Prepared for Anything

Students participate in 10th Disaster Animal Response course this spring
Five students standing next to each other in a lecture hall learning
Students taking part in the disaster recovery class. Photo: Dr. Emily McCobb

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine hosted its 10th Disaster Animal Response Course in April. This course has been offered on campus annually and bi-annually since 2010. The course is a collaboration between Cummings School, SMART (State of Massachusetts Animal Resource Team), and the MVMA (Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association) Disaster Committee and was made possible with support from the Lawrence Fund. 

Lectures this year included presentations from experts in sheltering animals in disasters and many notable alumni, including Dr. Jennifer Dunlap, V99 (equine internship alumnus), Dr. Sean Majoy, V06, VG13, Dr. Ilene Segal, V87, and Dr. Joanna Maitre, V02. Dr. Dave Schwarz and Dr. Liz Williamson from SMART coordinated the lectures. 

Black dog on a leash is being pet with people watching outside in the rain.

The course was not just about lectures, but also about hands-on learning. Activities included time spent with the MSPCA (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) large animal rescue team, where participants learned how to put a horse in a sling and move a horse using a glide to put on a trailer or remove from a stall. Students also visited Massachusetts (MA) Task Force 1 in Beverly, witnessing demonstrations from the urban search and rescue dog teams. The course concluded with the popular Tornado Cummings tabletop drill, challenging the student response team to form initial response plans after an incident involving numerous human and animal casualties and an unfortunate MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) train derailment. 

“We are grateful to MA Task Force 1 for hosting the visit, MSPCA for donating their team’s time,  Courtney for allowing us barn access, Stephanie for providing tractor support, as well as Sarah Hurd, Paul Hogan, Jessica Scott, and Ginny Shugrue who assisted with course coordination and logistics,” shares program director, Dr. Emily McCobb, V00, VG02.