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Disaster Preparedness Overview

Since 1995, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health has worked closely with the Indiana State Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) to prepare the state for a wide array of disaster situations that could impact pets, livestock, wildlife and exotic species, as well as their owners.

Countless hours of joint planning resulted in a new master plan that addresses the needs of animals and their owners within Indiana's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The Animal Health and Care Emergency Support Function outlines the procedures for handling two general categories of situations: health- or disease-related emergencies and natural or man-made disasters.

    Animal Health Emergencies

    In recent years, on a large scale, BOAH has responded to cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza and bovine tuberculosis in Indiana. BOAH's veterinarians and animal health specialists quickly responded to contain and eradicate these diseases of high consequence.

    BOAH's staff works to prepare for these and other diseases that could devastate Indiana's animal populations. Preparing includes working closely with the livestock and poultry industries to raise awareness, practice sound biosecurity to prevent entry and spread, and adopt plans to respond at the farm level.

    Natural and Man-Made Disasters

    Following the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, staff members of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the former State Emergency Management Agency (now IDHS) saw the need to prepare to meet the needs of animals and their owners in large-scale natural disasters.

    This began as the SAVE (State Annex for Veterinary Emergencies) program and has evolved to today's VMRC/ASERT. This program is maintained in cooperation with IDHS, and members may be called upon to respond to veterinary emergencies in Governor-declared disaster situations. This unique public-private partnership coordinates efforts to evacuate, rescue, treat and shelter animals in distress.

    Ready-Pet-Go Kit

    Animal owners are encouraged to prepare for natural and man-made disasters by taking measures, which include prepare a "Go Kit", make plans for evacuating animals, and make plans for sheltering animals in place. A "Go Kit" includes items your pets or livestock will need if you need to evacuate.

    Prepare a Ready Pet Go Kit

    Indiana's Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC)

    Want to make a difference in your community for animals and their owners? Volunteer to be part of Indiana’s Veterinary Medical Response Corps (VMRC).

    Indiana: Leading the Way in Planning for Animals

    In 1995, Indiana became the first state in the nation to include animals as part of the state's official emergency management plan for floods, tornadoes and other large-scale disasters. What began as the SAVE (State Annex for Veterinary Emergencies) program evolved into the Animal Surveillance Emergency Response Team (ASERT) to address needs for high-consequence animal health emergencies. Today Indiana maintains a registered Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC) that supports coordination of efforts to evacuate, rescue, treat and shelter animals in distress.

    Indiana's Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC) 

    Animal Issues in Disasters Training Course

    The Animal Issues in Disasters course is a one-day course taught by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health staff to train local officials, first responders and potential volunteers about planning and response for animals during disasters.

    Learn more at:

    Other Disaster Preparedness Information

    Indiana Rural Emergency Preparedness (Purdue Extension)
    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
    Emergency Preparedness for Equine Owners from AAEP
    American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Disaster Preparedness for Veterinarians
    Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT)