Bettendorf Fire Department gets special animal rescue training

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Firefighters are trained to respond to countless types of emergencies, but some local first responders say animal rescue could use some work. Members of the Bettendorf Fire Department spent Monday night learning about Basic Animal Rescue Training or BART.

“We've had fires where we've had pets before, and not having the equipment or the staff that were trained, that were available to even help the pet during that emergency, is kind of frustrating,” said Lt. Jeff Green of the Bettendorf Fire Department.

BART is a non-profit that started in Minnesota focusing on training first responders how to deal with animals in emergencies. The organization has expanded services to Iowa and Oklahoma and has trained over 5,000 first responders.

Sixteen Bettendorf firefighters learned basic handling of pets, first aid and CPR. Instructors also talked about helping horses and livestock.

BART trainer Jennifer Ewoldt, a veterinarian, also focused on an issue first responders often encounter: the human and animal bond.

“If your pet was in a burning building would you leave the burning building without your pet? The answer for a lot of people is no,” said Ewoldt.

“We've had to struggle with victims of fires, even people along the (river) bank when their pet is out in the water,” said Green.

Dr. Scott Sandeman of Glenroads & LeClaire Veterinary Clincs helped pay for the training in Bettendorf.

“As a pet lover, we want to make sure that our first responders, who have a tremendous amount of responsibility, are able to do the job that we want them to do with our pets,” said Sandeman.

The Bettendorf Fire Department also received equipment to help with animals through a grant.