Who We Are
Basic Animal Rescue Training (BART) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. BART was established in 2004 by Dr. Janet Olson, a veterinary cardiologist. BART is based in Minnesota, but also has Certified Instructors, who are all in the veterinary profession, in Iowa and Oklahoma as well. BART’s vision is to set the standard for the way pets and livestock are addressed in emergencies and disasters.
Janet Olson, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology) Founder
Dr. Janet Olson founded the BART organization in 2004 when she recognized a gap in preparing and responding to pets encountered in emergencies and disasters. She is a veterinary cardiologist by trade. Dr. Olson graduated in 1996 from the University of Minnesota – College of Veterinary Medicine and then completed a Small Animal Medicine and Surgery internship in 1997 at the University of Missouri – College of Veterinary Medicine. She worked for 9 + years in private practice primarily at an internal medicine veterinary referral practice in the Twin Cities. In 2007 she returned to the University of Minnesota – College of Veterinary Medicine for a 3 year cardiology residency program. She is now the owner of Veterinary Cardiology Specialists, a mobile veterinary cardiology consulting business offering her services to veterinary hospitals and their patients in Minnesota and Iowa.
Dr. Olson received the prestigious Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association’s “Veterinary Service Award” in 2007 as well as the University of Wisconsin’s “Forward under Forty” award in 2008 in recognition of her accomplishments developing and leading the Basic Animal Rescue Training organization. Janet’s husband, Brian Olson, is a firefighter on the New Brighton Fire Department. They have 2 daughters and a dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, “Toby”.
Sara Williams, DVM, President
Dr. Sara Williams is a small animal veterinarian at Northwest Animal Hospital in Plymouth, Minnesota. Dr. Williams graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002 and then attended the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to complete her Master of Public Health degree. Her specialty is infectious disease epidemiology and diseases that affect both humans and animals. Dr. Sara worked for the state government, interned at the Center for Disease Control and has completed advanced training in the Incident Command System for large scale emergency response prior to working in private practice. She also has training as an Emergency Medical Technician and experience teaching American Red Cross First Aid and CPR courses to human health professionals.
Dr. Sara lives in the west metro suburbs with her husband Rob, who is a North Memorial Paramedic, and three young children. In her free time, she enjoys running, yoga and volunteer activities.
Michelle Ugurlu, CVT, Secretary
Michelle has been a technician since 2002. She received her B.S. degree in Public Health from Mankato State University in Minnesota and her A.S. degree in Veterinary Technology from St. Petersburg College in Florida. Michelle did an internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York before joining the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center’s oncology department, where she worked for over 5 years.
Michelle has been involved with BART in several capacities and has been on the board since 2012. Currently she leads the Special Events Committee which plans and executes the “Run with the Pack” dog duathlon and 5K events.
Outside of BART, Michelle enjoys running, gardening and reading. She and her husband have 3 young children, a dog and 2 cats that keep them very busy
Hugh Thibodeau, Treasurer
After a tour of duty with the Air Force, Hugh attended the University of Minnesota Institute of technology, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Hugh had a 33-Year career at the University of Minnesota as an Electrical Design Engineer, and retired from the Engineering and Architecture Division of the Planning Office.Since retirement, Hugh has devoted efforts and resources to improving animal’s lives. As a supporter of the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine, the U of M Veterinary Medical Center, the Raptor Center, and the Humane Society, and as a Director of BART, Hugh intends to continue having a positive impact on the welfare of animals. Hugh’s wife Julie shares this commitment.
Hugh and Julie share their Roseville home with their two dogs, Tasha and Taco.
Christina Rich, Director
Christina is a consultant in financial services with a focus on training and organizational change management activities. She received her B.A. degree from University of Minnesota – Duluth and her M.S. degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, where she was a member of the Alumni Board. She is also an active member of the Association of Talent Development.
Christina has been involved with BART since May 2016. She has a passion for animals and has previously been on the Board of Directors and Board Secretary for The Wildcat Sanctuary.
Outside of BART, Christina is a fitness and tennis enthusiast. She is a member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and has sat on various committees. She also enjoys traveling and attending local charity events. She and her boyfriend have one cat, Shadow.
Jeff Wessel, Director
Jeff has been working in the marketing and IT field since 2011. He received his bachelors degree from Iowa State University and has a wide range of experience working within the marketing and IT industry at small, medium and large companies. Jeff joined the BART board of directors in 2016 and is looking forward to working with all the great people, community, and supporters within the BART organization.
In his free time, Jeff loves being active outside participating in just about any sport but his favorites are hockey, volleyball and golf. He lives in Burnsville with his wife Kristy, dog Watson, and two cats Yoda and Kai.
Greg Peterson, Director
Welcome to our new BART director, Greg Peterson. We will have his bio up soon.
Mike Murphy, DVM
Mike Murphy is a veterinary toxicologist and attorney. His wife, also a veterinarian, and two labs – Barney and Bailey – all enjoy being BART volunteers. Mike served as a BART Board Member from 2008-2013.
Chief John Fruetel, Minneapolis Fire
John Fruetel is the Minneapolis Fire Chief. Chief Fruetel was off duty at the Twins game when the 35W Bridge fell. The Minneapolis Fire Department’s Assistant Chief of Operations, at the time, bolted from the Metrodome and was leading the rescue operation minutes later. Fruetel’s leadership brought comfort, care and order to the chaos. He received the Firefighter Ready award at the 2008 Heroes Breakfast, presented by the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Red Cross for his leadership during the I-35 bridge collapse in the summer of 2007. John served as a BART Board Member from 2008-2013.
John King, DVM
Dr. John King graduated in 1989 from the University of Minnesota – College of Veterinary Medicine and then completed a large Animal Medicine, Surgery and Theriogenology Internship in 1990 at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada – Atlantic Veterinary College. He has been active in his primarily equine practice from 1990 to present. He served as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine since 2002-2013. Dr King has been a member of the LeSueur Fire Department since 1991. In 2009 he received the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) President’s Award for his “significant contribution to the veterinary profession, MVMA and for promoting the human-animal bond animal health and welfare and public health”. He is married to his wife Kay and has twin daughters Maggie and Molly and a son Evan and numerous animals, large and small. John served as a BART Board Member from 2008-2013.
What We Do
Our Mission is “To empower firefighters and other first responders to be prepared and equipped to address pets and livestock encountered in emergencies and disasters. BART serves to honor the human-animal bond and preserve human health, safety and well-being.”
We’ve trained over 5,000 people across the United States and continue to expand as awareness of our mission grows.
Departments We've Trained
Altoona, IA Fire Department
Maplewood Fire Department
Andover Fire Department
Mason City, IA Fire Department
Anoka-Champlin Fire Departments
Medicine Lake Fire Department
Milbury Fire Department
Ashland Fire Department (Massachusetts)
Minneapolis Airport Police K-9 Officers
Bettendorf Fire Department
Minneapolis Fire Department
Bloomington Fire Department
Minneapolis Fire Department Cadets
Blue Grass, IA Fire Department
Minnesota Animal Control Association
Brooklyn Center Fire Department
Minnesota Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps
Burnsville Fire Department
Minnetonka Fire Department
Cambridge and Isanti Fire Departments
Montrose Fire Department
Chanhassen Fire Department
Moose Lake Fire Department
Mora Fire Department
Chaska Fire Department
New Brighton Community Emergency Response Team
Clinton Fire Department
New Brighton Fire Department
Cook County EMS
Newcastle, OK Fire Department
Dakota Co./Scott Co. MRC
Norman, OK – First Responders, Medical Reserve Corps, Armed Services,CERT Members
Dayton Fire Department
Oakdale Fire Department
Eagan Fire Department
Ogilvie First Responders
Eden Prairie Fire Department
Pine Medical Ambulance Service
Edina Fire Department
Pleading Paws Rescue and Other Community Groups
Ellicott City, Maryland Fire Department
Ramsey Fire Department
Elk River Fire Department
Region 1 Homeland Security Board
Esko Fire Department
Rice Fire Department
Evansville Fire Department
Richfield Fire Department
Excelsior Fire Department
Roseau Fire Department
Falcon Heights Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Rosemount Fire Deparment
Falcon Heights Fire Department
Roseville Fire Department
Farmington EMS Department
Saint Louis Park Fire Department
Farmington Fire Department
Scanlon Fire Department
Finland Fire Department
Shawnee, OK – First Responders, Medical Reserve Corps, Armed Services, CERT Members
Fridley Fire Department
Sioux Falls Fire Departments
Golden Valley Fire Department
Slaughterville OK Fire Department
Grafton Fire Department
South Metro Fire Department
Grand Lake Fire Department
Stillwater Fire Department
Grand Rapids Fire Department
St Croix Emergency Medical Services
Greaney-Rauch-Silverdale Fire Department
St. Louis County Sheriff’s Reserve
Hamburg Fire Department
St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad
Hopkins Fire Department
Sutton Fire Department
Hugo Fire Department
Urbandale, Iowa Fire Department
Hutchinson Fire Department
University of Minnesota EMS
Kanabec County Sheriff’s Reserve
Waseca Fire Department
Lake Johanna Fire Department
West Metro Fire and Rescue Department
LeSueure Fire Department
White Bear Lake Fire Department
Maple Grove Fire Department
Woodbury Public Safety Department
BART started a new training and philanthropy campaign.
BART offers two courses: (1) Small Animal Safety Response Course and (2) Large Animal Capture and Restraint Course. The Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education (MBFTE) approved BART courses for reimbursement. BART would also like to supplement your philanthropy program.
To learn more about training courses, please go to our Courses page. To learn more about philanthropy and donation information, please download our informational document. and stop by our Donate page.
Want to get something for your donation? Please take a look inside the BART Store and find BART apparel for both you and your pooch. Bloomington Custom Embroidery will donate a percentage of sales directly to BART to support our mission. Please pass the word and let others know that BART apparel is available now!
MBFTE – Minnesota Board of Fire Fighter Training and Education