2013 Colorado Floods, Boulder’s Emergency Animal Air Rescues: A Military and Animal Control Collaboration

2013 Colorado Floods, Boulder’s Emergency Animal Air Rescues: A Military and Animal Control Collaboration
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-05-23
Unit 1 Slide Deck: 2013 Colorado Floods, Boulder’s Emergency Animal Air Rescues: A Military and Animal Control Collaboration
Unit 2 Workbook: 2013 Colorado Floods, Boulder’s Emergency Animal Air Rescues
Unit 3 Recording: 2013 Colorado Floods, Boulder’s Emergency Animal Air Rescues

Back in 2013, Colorado was devastated by a natural disaster that affected 17 counties with lives lost, properties destroyed or damaged, and families and animals displaced – at least $2 billion worth of losses. Boulder County suffered most from 2013’s “1000 Year” Colorado Flood. Boulder was put to the test as they had to apply everything they’ve learned handling critical events and calamities in the past.

This webinar’s guest is Janee Boswell of the Boulder Police Department where she serves as the Supervisor of Animal Control. She’s been in the animal care and control profession for 17 years. Janee is also the President of the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers, and the Secretary of the National Animal Care and Control Association. She led a segment of the emergency response dealing with animal control and rescue during the Colorado Flood.

Janee discussed the details of the 2013 Colorado Flood from her point of view including:

  • The preparation Colorado had been doing based on their experience with wildfires that are pretty common during the summer.
  • The recorded 17 inches of rainfall in 5 days that started on September 11th, 2013, a deviation from the typically dry conditions with only 15-inch annual average rainfall.
    • The local resources, albeit limited, that were mobilized on the animal care and control front.
    • The other tasks that animal control officers needed to attend to amidst the ongoing emergency response.
    • The struggle that animal care staff struggled with their loved ones and properties being personally impacted by the calamity while also being called to serve.
  • The response led by the Colorado National Guard that commenced on September 12th.
    • The setting up of the Incident Command Post at the Boulder Municipal Airport.
    • Determining the need for helicopter evacuation for the community members who are stranded in the mountainous parts of the county.
    • The pivotal role retired Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback played in the rescue operations.
  • The start of helicopter evacuations on September 13th.
    • The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act enacted in 2006 that buttressed the efforts to make sure animals are likewise rescued and evacuated during calamities.
  • The new IMT team that assumed responsibility on September 14th.
    • The new team’s conflicting mindset with the operations initiated by retired Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback that takes into account the safety of both human and animal lives.
    • The activities that have been taking place at the airport operations where most of animal control is focused.
  • The challenges they experienced due to lack of equipment and animal training as this is the first time that a wide-scale animal helicopter rescue and evacuation was done.
  • What the animal control team did in response to the challenges they’re facing.
  • The results of evacuation and the additional assistance that had to be rallied in order to manage the influx of people and their pets.
  • Characteristics that helped astoundingly in managing the emergency situation.
  • Closing down the emergency response where all co-located shelters were demobilized while animal shelters continued to hold unclaimed animals.
  • Statistics of the success of animal control’s effort and the unfortunate losses due to the flooding.
  • The Boulder Airport Day initiative that the community holds every other year to commemorate the event and recognize the victims and key players during the 2013 Colorado Flood.
  • Janee provided several anecdotes and photos during her presentation that illustrates:
    • The extent of the damage of the floods.
    • The efforts made by the responders.
    • The set-up of the Incident Command Post at the Boulder Municipal Airport.
    • How animals are being rescued and attended to at the Incident Command Post.
    • Unfortunate incidents where animals were harmed or lost during the evacuation.
    • Examples of how Boulder County’s preparation efforts paid off.
    • The assistance extended by neighbors, local businesses and agencies.
  • Janee provided clarification on the webinar participant’s questions about:
    • The logistics before being brought to the co-located shelters.
    • Staffing and volunteers during the emergency response.
    • The duration when animal shelters held on to stray and unidentified owner animals.
    • What would’ve played out minus the leadership of retired Lt. Col. Utterback.
    • Tagging the animals to their respective owners.
    • Things they would’ve changed in hindsight.
    • Fostering relationships and coordinating with organizations who provided assistance like the Red Cross.
    • Dealing with the emotional side of the response.


Audience Comments

  • “I was SO impressed with Janee’s compassion and strength during this horrible disaster! An eye-opener on pre-planning and working together across professions!” –John
  • “Helpful hints on what to be prepared for. Some of the most simple things that really go a long way, such as zip ties for carriers, and paper bags for sight guards. I will do my research on Public Law 109-308. Really enjoyed this and learned a lot.” –Johnathan
  • “Loved learning about how communities respond to animals in disasters. Would love to see more innovative responses and discussions on this topic. Thanks!” –Jennifer
  • “This was FANTASTIC!!! Great webinar!! ” –Christina


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This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





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