Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
This is your chance to polish your public speaking skills! Ask for interviews with local:
Discuss the need for an Animal Response Group, and give your contact information as well as the time, date, and location of the first meeting for the new group. Be sure to bring out any experience you have, such as working the fire of so-and-so or the flood of such-and-such, as well as professional credentials, and don't hesitate to mention important Lessons Learned such as the fact that people are much more willing to evacuate when there is a safe haven for their animals as well. Politely but firmly make the point that many folks want to volunteer at the time of the disaster but that we have learned they need to have some training ahead of time.
While you are there, be sure to ask to see management and offer a Memorandum of Understanding so that when you need specific information given out to the public during a disaster incident, the media will be ready to work with you.
Volunteer to speak to:
Trail riding groups
Rotary and other business groups
Local veterinary association
Local 4H and FFA, but be aware volunteers under the age of 18 may have to be accompanied by a parent or may be disallowed; check on local and state regulations before speaking to groups of young people!
Check your local paper for listings of activities to get other ideas!
Your community information page makes a good handout for these meetings, just run off a few copies that also have the information for your first meeting.
Have an information booth at street fairs, the county fair, and other local functions. I used to like to set up a truck and trailer with some halters and leads, maybe a little area with some cages and stuffed animals, perhaps a stuffed animal with an IV setup. Let them see what an ARG does!
Leave flyers at:
Your first meeting may be lightly attended, but don't let that discourage you! If you can get a core group trained, and especially if you can make the trainings fun and build the camaraderie, friends of volunteers will start showing up too. After the first deployment, you will likely have volunteers beating your doors down. Take the time to train this first small group well, and you will likely have the leaders to fill in the top half of your command tree. Later volunteers then fill out the bottom of the command tree and work their way up.