VENTRESS - Emergency responders practiced saving stuffed animals this week as part of training to better handle animal water rescues during the upcoming hurricane season.

The rescue training for firemen, animal control officers, state veterinarians and vet technicians will teach them how to better save stranded, displaced or injured animals during a disaster.

The training includes a five-day course in animal water rescue, large animal rescue and animal decontamination. Stuffed animals were used for rescue situations, while live animals are being used to train responders how to decontaminate animals exposed to toxins in flood waters or biochemical disasters.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals organized this week's animal rescue boot camp in Ventress, along with LSU's vet school and the Louisiana State Animal Response Team. The ASPCA noted that during 2012's Hurricane Isaac, many local animal control officers weren't trained in water rescue and decontamination efforts, and weren't able to search for and recover pets left behind in flood waters.

A 2011 ASPCA poll revealed that more than one-third of cat and dog owners don't have emergency preparedness plans in place for their pets.

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