LA's Real Superheroes SMART, SPECIALIZED MOBILE ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM Featured in Award-Winning Documentary out Dec 6

7:16 PM

When two pregnant cows were trapped in an over-turned rig on the 210-freeway last March, the City of Los Angeles’ "SMART," a specialized mobile animal rescue team, was called in to save them. 

The team, the first of its kind in the United States, is a uniquely trained unit within the Animal Services division that risks life and limb to rescue domestic and wild animals in the most precarious situations. 

An award-winning documentary film, "SMART: SPECIALIZED MOBILE ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM," captures the heart and soul of this team as they battle to save LA’s animals. 

The film will be released on December 6 on DVD and Video on Demand.

Since "SMART's" formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals (domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds), including 200 this year. 

Covering the entire city of Los Angeles, an area of over 400 square miles encompassing 4 million people and approximately 8 million domestic animals, the team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. 

Due to "SMART’s" distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
“We will do anything and everything we can to rescue an animal. We’ll go buy whatever it is we need. It’s not unusual to go to the store and put down $500 on some equipment…out of our own pocket. We just really believe in what we are doing.”
–Annette Ramirez, Animal Services Personnel, SMART team member
Since its inception, "SMART" has inspired the creation of two other similar teams in Riverside and San Diego, and have won the Higgins & Langley Award in 2012, the top accolades for swiftwater rescue teams globally. 

The team’s leader (Armando Navarrete) has received department commendations in 2013 and 2014. 

In addition, the team also makes school visits at least once a month and participates regularly in emergency preparedness fairs.

The team is currently made up of 5 women and 7 men (Team Leader Armando Navarrete, Ernesto Poblano, Annette Ramirez, Ramon Garcia, Yvette Smith, Hoang Dinh, Hugh Briefman, Glen Julian, Verna Riparip, Tam Shepphird, Felix Lopez and Gabby Lera) representing the ethnic multiculturalism of Los Angeles. 

In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget.
Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette Said, "(SMART’s role is) to show people that the impossible is possible.”
Directed by Justin Zimmerman (“Fireland,” “The Titanic of Southampton”) and executive produced by Kimberly Zimmerman, the 74-minute film has been an Official Selection at 19 festivals, nominated for 12 awards and won 7 including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Audience Award and Best Photography.

The Documentary shows that humans are not the only ones in need of rescuing and, in the city of Los Angeles, the members of "SMART" (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team) have stepped up to save lives. 
Led by Armando Navarrete, this division of trained and passionate animal lovers risks life and limb to rescue every kind of creature in need, from horses to mountain lions to cats and dogs.

Follow Armando as he struggles to get his team off the ground, survives death-defying rescues and finds love, all amid LA’s heartbreaking animal shelter system. 

Never giving up, Armando and his team have saved over 1000 lives and created new tactics, technology, and inspiration for similar programs to develop in more cities.

Shot over the course of three years, "SMART" is a great example of how a team of passionate and dedicated people can become real-life superheroes.

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