Training Information

VDART Volunteer Training Requirements

In order to be deployed by VDART to a disaster, our team members must

  1. Return a completed Volunteer Application Form and Waiver.
  2. Be at least 18 years of age.
  3. Complete (at a minimum) Level One of the following training curriculum


DART Basic Training (Required)

  1. Volunteering for Your State Disaster Animal Response Team

Free, self-paced webinar that introduces volunteers to their state disaster animal response team.

Use this link to view the video:

  1. Emergency Animal Sheltering Course – Basic

(Offered by VDART and national response groups like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, or Red Rover)

OR – participate in a VDART Emergency Animal Shelter response or equivalent for at least 12 hours under supervision and receive an endorsement from the Chair of the local VDART team.

  1. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Independent Study Courses (free, self-paced and on-line)

FEMA IS-100.C: Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS)

Introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. Describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

FEMA IS-10.A: Animals in Disasters: Awareness & Preparedness

Intended to increase awareness and preparedness among animal owners and care providers. Includes sections on typical hazards, how these affect animals and what can be done by responsible owners to reduce the impact of disasters. Also intended to help animal owners, care providers and industries to better understand emergency management. Will heighten awareness of the special issues that emergency managers need to consider when incorporating animal-care annexes into their emergency operations plans.

DART Advanced Training (Optional)

VDART encourages its volunteers to gain as much experience as possible.  Below is a list of training sessions that will provide additional experience.  VDART recommends that those interested in being Shelter Managers take the Fear Free Shelter Program, Pet First Aid, and participate in a Shelter Manager Simulation Training.

  1. Fear Free Shelter Program*

In this program, you’ll learn how to improve the emotional experiences of animals by applying key strategies and techniques designed to reduce the negative emotional states that are commonly experienced by shelter and rescue animals, including fear, anxiety, stress (FAS), and frustration. The Fear Free Shelter Program aims to provide training that is suitable for all individuals involved in the care and oversight of shelter and rescue animals—from medical and behavioral staff to intake, reception, kennel, and cattery staff to animal control officers, adoption counselors, foster caregivers, and shelter volunteers.  Go to to register

*Recommended for volunteers serving as Shelter Managers.

  1. Pet First Aid *

*Recommended for volunteers serving as Shelter Managers.

  1. Shelter management simulation exercises*

*Recommended for volunteers serving as Shelter Managers.

  1. FEMA IS-700.B: An Introduction to the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  2. FEMA IS-11.A: Animals in Disasters: Community Planning
  3. FEMA IS-111.A: Livestock in Disasters
  4. Small and Large Animal Search and Rescue
  5. Small and Large Animal Handling and CPR
  6. Animal and human rapid water rescue
  7. Animal and human rope incline rescue
  8. Advanced ICS training
  9. Advanced search and rescue
  10. Introduction to hazardous materials
  11. Hands-on training (volunteer at your local animal shelter!)
  12. Formal and informal animal disaster drills
  13. Exotic animal handling
  14. Communications equipment and protocols
  15. Cross training with other state and local DART teams
  16. FEMA IS 29 – Public Information Officer (PIO) Awareness and Basics
  17. American Red Cross training – go here to access free classes:
    1. Psychological First Aid
    2. First Aid/CPR
    3. Introduction to Disaster Services
    4. Mass Care: An Overview
      – Shelter Operations
      – Shelter Simulation
      – Mass Care
      – Emergency Assistance to Families

VDART Video Training Library

This library is meant to be a resource for you to pursue training in the area of your interests.  There are numerous websites with thousands of training videos, so the VDART’s Training and Development Committee selected a few that would be pertinent to our emergency sheltering work.  Jump in and have fun!

Free Red Cross classes

Free Red Cross classes for non-Red Cross volunteers.  One particular class that will assist VDART members is: “Psychological First Aid”.  Here’s the link to register:

Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference via ASPCApro

  • Caring this much is exhausting
  • Engaging volunteers
  • Enacting laws that keep pets and people together


ASPCA On-line Learning Lab


ASPCApro Tools & Tips