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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: April 25, 2023 01:13 PM
From: Representative Melissa L. Shusterman
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania Animal Response Team (PART) Funding
When a disaster strikes, all members of the family are affected.  That’s why federal law requires states to incorporate planning for pets and livestock into their emergency plans.  In Pennsylvania, that plan started in 2004 with the Pennsylvania Animal Response Team (PART) which coordinates the efforts of 50 active volunteer teams with over 500 volunteers to rescue animals during times of disaster.  PART’s work is also supporting our emergency responders from needing to utilize their resources to rescue and shelter animals.
The PART structure includes a countywide element called CART which provides disaster responses within a particular county.  Their coordination efforts have assisted in:
  • The Norfolk Southern disaster, where the CART team assisted in the evacuation of a farm animal sanctuary from Beaver County, helping to move dozens of animals including goats, horses, and cows to a safer area. 

  • Providing shelters during Hurricane Irene, conducting search and rescue during Hurricane Sandy, and operating a mega shelter for the Ice Storms of 2014.

  • An apartment fire in Allegheny County that affected more than 30 units, providing pet care kits and assisting with pet friendly hotel placements.

  • Seizing 250 chihuahuas from a home alongside the Office of Dog Law.

  • Identifying the source of cows that were found on the highway across three counties alongside the Department of Agriculture.

  • Tracking numerous animals including stray bulls, rogue emus, and feral goats. 
PART also secured a grant at the onset of COVID-19 to provide pet food distribution in support of PA’s food banks by distributing food directly to impacted families, through the county offices on aging, and shelter partners with pet food banks.  
This enormous amount of work is accomplished with an annual budget of $250,000 which pays to replace and maintain sheltering trailers, crates, volunteer training and one staff member to coordinate 500 volunteers.  The partial funding from the Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) for the last 10 years has made it difficult for PART and they struggle to meet the demand.  It is for this reason that I am introducing legislation to establish a line item for PART in the budget to recognize the incredible return on investment for such a small budget and fully fund the team.  
Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation to provide stability and growth for this statewide resource.

Introduced as HB1502