by Evan Pattak
The Washington County Animal Response Team (WaCART) provides irreplaceable services throughout Washington County, rescuing animals trapped in life-threatening situations. Yet the agency has been hampered in its efforts by the lack of a truck to haul the trailer that houses its emergency equipment and supplies.

Now, WaCART has launched a campaign to raise funds to purchase a truck . . . and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is helping. The MSOA, which represents horse owners, trainers and drivers who compete at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, has contributed $2,000 to the campaign. Ultimately, WaCART needs to raise $68,160 to purchase the truck and such safety equipment as scene lightning and a radio/repeater system. The organization has collected close to $20,000 and hopes to complete the campaign and acquire the truck next year.

“We’re delighted to assist WaCART with this acquisition, which will help it save the lives of animals,” said Rich Gillock, MSOA president. “Many of their emergency calls involve horses in life-or-death situations, so their work is near and dear to the hearts of MSOA members.”

WaCART is a volunteer organization, part of a statewide network of county-based units called the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. The groups rescue livestock and domesticated and exotic animals, though other wildlife is outside their purview. They don’t handle cases of animal neglect or abuse but sometimes are asked to assist agencies that do.

For example, in a recent incident involving German shorthaired pointers abused at a puppy mill, WaCART volunteers helped secure 94 dogs and transport them to the local fairgrounds; from there, appropriate care/placement agencies took over.

Ed Childers, WaCART coordinator, says his group averages about 15 rescue missions per year, ranging from horses stuck in sinkholes to cows stranded in ravines. Sometimes, though, valuable time is lost while WaCART hunts down a truck to haul the supply trailer.

“That can add at least 30 minutes to the process,” Childers said. “Very often, the animals in need of recuse don’t have that extra 30 minutes.”

WaCART has targeted a van that includes shelving, a bulkhead and storage compartments.

“We’ll be able to house the van in a heated garage bay at the North Strabane Fire Department, which is centrally located and would be available to us round the clock,” Childers said.

Both Childers and Gillock noted that WaCART and the MSOA are discussing other collaborative efforts, including WaCART’s training MSOA members in emergency rescue techniques. Childers indicated his group recently conducted successful training with horsemen at Parx Casino and Racing, a Thoroughbred venue near Philadelphia.