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Emergency Support Function 11 - Animal Care Handout - John Cohen



SUPPORT AGENCIES: Department of Parks and Recreation
Department of General Services
Department of Public Works
Denver Health and Hospital Authority
Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society
Denver Zoological Foundation
Colorado Division of Wildlife
Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation
Dumb Friends League
Local, State and National Animal Support Organizations


The purpose of Emergency Support Function 11 (ESF 11) is to coordinate the response of Denver agencies and volunteer organizations to provide all animals affected by the disaster with emergency veterinary care, evacuation, rescue, temporary confinement, shelter, food and water, and identification for return to the owner. The coordination may also involve diagnosis, prevention, and control of diseases of public health significance. Disposal of dead animals is also a major concern.  To accomplish this goal, the ESF 11 primary agency, Department of Environmental Health (DEH), oversees the emergency management functions of preparedness, recovery, mitigation and response, working with the ESF 11 support agencies and all other support organizations that carry out animal support services.  The Director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) directs all aspects of emergency management for the City & County of Denver.  ESF 11 resources are activated when the OEM or the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) requests emergency animal services.


1. Any emergency or disaster where animals need rescuing, food, and shelter.

2. Primary emphasis during an emergency will always be the safety and well-being of the human population of the City and County of Denver. Animal response will occur concurrently as resources are available.

3. Depending on the hazard and the severity of the disaster, the City and County of Denver may have limited animal shelters and resources to manage those shelters.

4. Depending on the hazard and severity of an emergency or disaster, there might be limited responders to staff animal rescue teams and a lack of resources to manage those teams.

5. All shelter and rescue operations during emergencies or disasters will be coordinated through the EOC, when activated. 



1. ESF 11 is organized to provide incident assessment, planning, procurement, deployment, and support operations to Denver’s Animal Emergency Response Team (DAERT), and local management to ensure a timely and appropriate response to an emergency or disaster incident. 

2. Procedural protocols and plans for disaster response have been developed to coordinate operations among the DEH Department Operations Centers (DOCs), the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter (DMAS), Denver Animal care and Control (DACC), the Denver EOC and field response.  Periodic training is also conducted to enhance effectiveness.

3. Emergencies or disasters may require mutual aid, and state or federal assistance. ESF 11 will work with counterparts from such entities to seek, plan and coordinate use of those assets. 

4. Throughout the response and recovery periods, ESF 11 agencies will evaluate and analyze information regarding animal assistance requests for response, develop and update assessments of animal status in the impact area, and conduct contingency planning to meet anticipated demands. 

5. ESF 11 may coordinate resources to provide emergency veterinary care for animals including: domestic pets, livestock, exhibition animals, racing animals, zoo animals, laboratory and research animals and wildlife.

6. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 6 (Mass Care) to establish sheltering of animals in close proximity to human shelters and for the storage of emergency relief supplies and their distribution to animal caretakers and shelters. ESF 11 will identify available barns, buildings, parks, pastures, kennels, etc. for animal shelters.

7. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 15 (Public Information) to ensure that information is provided on the location of animal shelters and other animal-related matters. ESF 11 will also coordinate public education efforts. 

8. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 9 (Urban Search and Rescue) to provide assistance with animal rescue, capture, restraint and relocation.

9. ESF 11 will coordinate with support agencies to establish a system to register identification data in an effort to reunite animals with their owners.

10. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 8 (Health and Veterinary) for the identification, prevention and control of diseases of animals, which have public health significance, including epidemiological and environmental health activities.


1. ESF 11 is organized to ensure rapid response to animal care needs in the disaster area. The Division of Animal Care and Control (ACC) of DEH will maintain a thorough and up-to-date disaster plan that has been coordinated with support agencies.  DEH shall designate an Animal Emergency Coordinator.  When activated, agencies in ESF 11 will operate under the plan and its support documents.

2. ESF 11 focuses primarily on emergency veterinary care, evacuation, rescue, capture, temporary confinement, shelter, provision of food and water, identification and tracking for reunification of owners with their animals, and the disposal of dead animals.

3. The primary agency for ESF 11 is DEH with the Division of Animal Care and Control personnel assigned to ESF 11 providing daily direction. This direction is limited to operation of ESF 11, assignment of personnel to handle requests for assistance, and ensuring that requests for assistance are prioritized, met, and documented. ESF 11 establishes coordination with other appropriate ESFs and will maintain open communications with these ESFs in both the planning and operational phases.

4. Support agencies will operate with the daily leadership of DEH, Division of Animal Care and Control personnel. Support agencies will be appropriately assigned based on known capabilities and in accordance with their own operating procedures. Should a conflict arise between the primary agency and a support agency, the issue will be turned over to the Denver OEM for resolution.

5. DEH as the primary agency will provide sufficient personnel to staff ESF 11 (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) while operational or as requested by the Denver OEM. The personnel will be managers, skilled professionals with subject knowledge, and operations personnel qualified to expedite decisions for the agency.

6. In coordination with DEH, support agencies shall develop plans that support their ESF 11 assignments.

7. The primary agency, DEH, shall participate in disaster exercises as requested by the Denver OEM. The support agencies shall have a system in place for response of personnel in disaster exercises.


1. Upon notification by the OEM of a potential or actual event requiring response, ESF 11 will notify support agencies and organizations, as needed.

2. All support agencies may be instructed to alert their contacts throughout Denver and the Denver metro area to ensure that available resources are on standby.

3. Other resource inventories will be confirmed for possible use.


1. Preparedness

a. ESF 11 will conduct at least one training program annually for animal emergency coordinators, DAERT and other interested persons.

b. ESF 11 assists in releasing information annually on disaster planning and safety for animals through news releases or brochures.

c. ESF 11 develops and maintains a database of available animal emergency plans within the Denver Metro Area and a list of Denver Metro Area animal emergency coordinators.

d. ESF 11 will develop, maintain and regularly update lists of available animal shelters and confinement areas (including shelter for exotic and zoo animals) for the City and County of Denver. The database will include personnel and resource information.

e. ESF 11 develops and maintains a database of volunteer veterinary and non-veterinary volunteers and agencies that may provide care assistance.

2. Response

a. ESF 11 will track the activities of all available animal shelter facilities and confinement areas identified before, during, and after the disaster. This tracking will be based on information provided by the Denver animal emergency coordinator.

b. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 5 (Emergency Management) to provide information on the location and availability of veterinary care, shelter space, food, and water for animals.

c. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 6 (Mass Care), ESF 8 (Health and Medical) and ESF 15 (Public Information) regarding storage sites and staging areas for animal food and veterinary supplies.

d. ESF 11 may be called upon to serve the needs of emergency response in various areas of Field Operations (i.e., as a support function and resource to other jurisdictions). ESF 11 will coordinate damage assessment through the Denver Animal Emergency Coordinator.

e. ESF 11 will coordinate the assignment of relief personnel and the distribution of supplies from supply areas or staging areas and coordinate the consolidation, closing and demobilization of temporary animal shelters or confinement areas, personnel, and supplies as the need diminishes.

f. ESF 11 support agencies will coordinate the animal veterinary services needed for animal shelter and confinement areas. ESF 11 will coordinate with ESF 1 (Transportation), ESF 3 (Public Works and Infrastructure), and ESF 8 (Health and Medical) for the removal and proper disposal of animal waste and dead animals.

3. Recovery

a. ESF 11 will assist support agencies for maintenance, placement, or disposition of animals which/or cannot be returned to their normal habitat and have been separated from their owners.

b. Document all disaster related activities and their expenses.

4. Mitigation

a. Will conduct community disaster education in conjunction with volunteer and private animal support organizations aimed at increasing public awareness of animal and pet safety during and following a disaster.

b. Mutual aid agreements and/or Memorandums of Understanding to be completed in between key agencies (i.e. equipment use and shelter use agreements).

c. Training and exercises will be conducted on a regular basis involving key agencies, volunteer and private animal care organizations.


1. ESF 11 will be activated as requested by the Denver OEM to provide assistance prior to or following the occurrence of a disaster or emergency.

2.  Denver Environmental Health is the Primary Agency for ESF 11. Animal care functions will be coordinated through the Denver Emergency Operations Center.  DEH, as Primary Agency, will provide staff at the Denver Emergency Operations Center, as requested by OEM.

3. ESF 11 will assist local animal control agencies, humane organizations, livestock, or farming organizations, or other animal industry representatives. All local mutual aid, state and federal assistance for animal care must be requested by the Denver Animal Emergency Coordinator and must be coordinated through ESF 11.


A. PRIMARY AGENCY – Department of Environmental Health

1. Develop and maintain a roster of personnel that staff ESF 11 issues for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week coverage as necessary and as long as the Denver EOC is operational.

2. Identify locations within Denver for emergency animal shelters and confinement areas.

3. Maintain a list of permanent available shelters and confinement areas.

4. Maintain a list of local sources for food and water for sheltered and confined animals.

5. Develop plans and agreements for the disposal of animal carcasses and wastes.

6. Establish a protocol for prioritizing response activities and coordinate activities with other ESFs.

7. Request assistance when local resources are insufficient to meet the need.

8. Be prepared at all times to report status of ESF 11 disaster related activities.

9. Develop and maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that details all necessary activities. The SOPs will be coordinated with support agencies and organizations, and OEM.

10. Conduct disaster exercises with assistance from support agencies and organizations, disaster exercises.

B. Support Agencies

1. Denver Public Health, (Denver Health and Hospitals Authority)

a. Coordinate with ESF 11 to diagnose, and control zoonotic related diseases (such as anthrax, leptospirosis, mosquito borne diseases, and rabies) as it relates to the public and those exposed while aiding with the animal response.

2. Parks and Recreation, and Denver Zoological Foundation

a. Conduct warnings and assist in the coordination of sheltering in place or relocation of zoo animals (including mammals, birds, and reptiles) kept in major exhibits (e.g. wildlife dealers and circus facilities) as needed.

b. Conduct assessment of lost or escaped "exotic" animals. Using specialized personnel and equipment coordinate recapture and confinement of potentially dangerous or hazardous exotic animals with zoos, dealers and owners. 

3. Colorado Division of Wildlife

a. Assist in the coordinating of the needs of wildlife before, during, and after a disaster.

b. Assist with the assessment of damage to wildlife.

c. Assist with the removal of dead wildlife. 

5. Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation and Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society:

a. Appoint designated representative for coordinating with ESF 11.

b. Coordinate volunteer veterinarians, technicians and volunteer animal response personnel to provide care, rescue and sheltering.

c. Provide documentation of injuries and deaths of animals for owners or for insurance purposes.

6. Dumb Friends League

a. Principal supporting location for sheltering animals.

b. Provide personnel for animal care, including emergency veterinary care.

c. Establish adoption or disposition procedure consistent with DRMC Chapter 8 for unclaimed and lost animals.

7. National and State Animal Support Agencies and Organizations

a. Provide damage assessment personnel to assist in determining what resources may be needed from outside the state.

b. Assist in the coordination of the outside assistance and relocation of animals outside the affected area. 


1. All agencies will document all expenses related to their emergency or disaster response and recovery activities. These would include individual expenses as well as overall operating costs.  These records will be used for documenting expenditures for potential cost recovery after the incident. 

2. Personnel, Equipment and Vehicle Records - All organizations will keep detailed records of all personnel time, equipment and vehicle use to include mileage, fuel consumption, equipment, vehicle maintenance, damage, etc., and report this information to the OEM.


1. The primary responsibility for coordinating the development and maintenance of ESF 11 rests with the Manager of the Department of Environmental Health.  Other agencies supporting this ESF will assist the Manager through the development and maintenance of their own agencies Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and mutual aid agreements, in support of this ESF.

2. A periodic review of this ESF (no less than annually) will be conducted for revalidation and necessary changes. Appropriate signatures and approval dates will identify revisions to this plan. The revision process will include incorporation of changes based upon periodic tests, drills and exercises, as appropriate. All revisions will be submitted to OEM for updating the EOP and distribution to all agencies.

3. In coordination with support agencies and organizations, the Primary Agency will schedule and conduct training and drill activities that ensure a comprehensive understanding of all ESF roles and responsibilities. The Primary Agency will at least annually, coordinate with the OEM Exercise and Training Officer to develop and conduct an exercise of the ESF. The exercise will focus on the execution of all roles and responsibilities including those of supporting agencies and organizations, and their respective SOPs that support the ESF to ensure they are prepared to readily respond when activated.  All exercise activities will be documented in an After Action Report (AAR) that will identify necessary improvements and potential changes to the ESF document.  The ESF will be updated as necessary and revisions distributed to update the EOP.


A.  References

1. The City and County of Denver EOP, departments and agencies ESF Annex and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

2. This annex does not supplant existing plans or existing authorities, which have been developed for emergency response and recovery incidents.

3. Agencies that have their own mission authorities and funding to respond to disaster situations will respond initially under those statutory authorities; these will take precedence over the authorities provided under Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

B.  Authorities

1. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and Amendments (PL 93-288, as amended by PL 100-707); Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5, 2003.

2. Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992 (Colorado Revised Statute, Title 24, Part 21, Article 32, as amended 1996)

3. Denver Revised Municipal Code, Title l, Subtitle B, Article II, Part 2.

4. Denver Revised Municipal Code, Title ll, Chapter 16, Article II, Section 16-11 

5. Mayor’s Executive Order No. 85 and Memorandum No. 85A 

6. Mayor’s Executive Order No. 128