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      New parternship will help protect pets during disasters

      There's a new partnership to protect pets during times of disaster.

      The American Red Cross and the Michigan State Animal Response Team (MI-SART) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Monday, which provides the framework for the cooperation between the two organizations in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters that involve Michigan residents and their animals.

      This gives the Red Cross and MI-SART an opportunity to coordinate plans during a disaster response and assess the need to open designated, pet assessable emergency shelters. This will also clarify the roles of each organization when rendering assistance to victims of disaster and their companion animals.

      "MI SART is here to makes sure owners get healthy and happy pets back in the event of a disaster," said State Veterinarian Steven Halstead. "Knowing qualified and caring people are taking care of your pets helps a family cope in stressful situations."

      "When a disaster strikes and families are affected, this often includes the family pet. We want to make sure that together with MI-SART, we can provide necessary assistance to you and your family as well as assistance and shelter for your pets," said Dave Gutierrez, American Red Cross, State Disaster Officer for Ohio and Michigan.

      The American Red Cross will manage staff and operate general population shelters for individuals affected by disasters. MI-SART will manage staff and manage separate co-located animal shelters. A Co-located pet/human shelter is possible when a facility has a separate building with a separate ventilation systems and entrance. Additionally, MI-SART will maintain and accept responsibility for the portion of the facility used for the co-located pet shelter.