The Wisconsin Animal Response Corps, or WARC, is a group established to help the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection respond to natural disasters and disease outbreaks. WARC consists of specially trained veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students, livestock producers, animal caregivers, animal handlers, and anyone else who is skilled in handling animals in difficult situations.
WARC is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps. Members work with veterinarians and inspectors of the DATCP's Division of Animal Health. Initially, the focus has been on response to animal disease outbreaks, but members may also respond in natural disasters and accidents.
Animal Disease Outbreaks
DATCP does not become involved in every animal disease outbreak. Our veterinarians respond only when the disease strikes domesticated animals, usually livestock, and is a foreign animal disease, poses a public health threat, or has broad economic significance. These are diseases that strike many producers simultaneously and close market doors to our animals and products. They are contagious diseases that make headlines, such as pseudorabies, foot-and-mouth disease, and monkey pox. Often they are foreign animal diseases.
To quickly contain such diseases, we need many people to respond quickly. We need people to:
- Visit farms and other premises around infected premises to find where susceptible animals are kept
- Round up animals for testing and handle them during testing
- Collect samples for testing
- Disinfect vehicles and other equipment
- Assist in vaccination, treatment or euthanasia
- Perform other duties, depending on the nature of the disease
Wisconsin is developing plans for dealing with animals in emergencies, whether natural disasters like flooding or tornadoes, or manmade disasters such as a nuclear accident or a chemical spill. We have all seen the photos of cows gathered on front porches and pets trapped on the second floor of houses after Hurricane Katrina. Here in Wisconsin, the Weyauwega train derailment in 1996 showed the need almost as dramatically. Pets were left in homes for what was originally to have been a short evacuation, livestock needed feeding and watering, and cows needed milking.
As we develop these plans, we will incorporate roles for the Wisconsin Animal Response Corps, working with local emergency managers. WARC's role could include:
- Rescuing animals
- Providing foster care
- Providing veterinary care
- Milking in evacuated areas
- Performing other duties, depending on the situation
We train you in emergency management, including the incident command system, or ICS, used to organize emergency response staff and resources. This includes both classroom training and participation in emergency exercises.
Other training may involve topics such as:
- Foreign animal disease recognition
- Sample collection
- Emergency response
- Rescue techniques
All training is provided free. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians and humane officers may receive continuing education credits for training.