Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Emergency Response Rescue Team In Training

Mid-February of this year, Helen Woodward Animal Center announced its newest program – The Emergency Response Unit and Rescue Team. 

This week, the Center comes one step closer to providing hands-on animal assistance when disaster strikes.  

Monday, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Rescue Team went into training with Code 3 Associates, a nonprofit providing professional training to individuals and agencies involved in animal related emergency response.  The rescue team of nine will continue its training through the end of the week.

Helen Woodward Animal Center has taken an active role in aiding devastated shelters during emergency situations around the country since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina left multiple animal rescue facilities in trouble.  During Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Center once again provided life-saving assistance and transfer of orphan pets facing possible euthanasia when their animal shelters were left distressed and under water.  These rescue missions made their mark on Helen Woodward Animal Center, prompting an initiative to fund an Emergency Response Unit and train a team ready to deploy whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

Thanks to generous donors, the Linda C. Scott Fund for Animal Welfare and The San Diego Foundation’s matching grant support of $125,000, generously matched with another $125,000 by the Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust, the Center is now the owner of a state-of-the-art, 37-feet-long Rescue RV completely retrofitted with veterinary equipment and prepared to deploy to the rescue of animals in any part of the U.S.

In addition to the vehicle itself, along with life-saving veterinary medications and supplies to aid injured animals, the funding has also supported the readying of a Center Rescue Team complete with personal safety equipment, dry-suits, helmets, boots and more.  Most crucially, the funding allowed the Rescue Team (including the Center’s Adoptions Veterinarian and other medical and adoptions personnel) to attend the specialized training they are participating in this week. The week-long course includes instruction on water and boat operating safety, animal handling and behavior, fire awareness, search and rescue and more.

helen woodward animal rescue, training

“The mission of the Center is a global one,” said Helen Woodward Animal Center President & CEO Mike Arms. “We are delighted to take this additional leap forward to assist animals in need, not just locally but wherever the need is most crucial.”

The goal of these rescue missions is to alleviate the burden on animal welfare professionals and shelters in areas affected by disasters when help is needed most. The Center’s team will respond by rescuing and treating injured pets on-site and transporting orphan animals in need.

For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center, go to or call (858) 756-4117.

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