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October 3, 2011

  • Texas Aggies have long been known for their selfless service-it's one of our core values. For the past two weeks, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) has been living out that core value when they responded to one of the largest wildfires in our history - the Bastrop County Complex Wildfire. This dedicated team of faculty clinicians, veterinary technicians, staff, and veterinary students gave up time with family and friends to take care of the animals that were affected by this fire. In addition to providing support for the search and rescue dogs of Texas Task Force-1, the VET helped take care of animals brought in from the field by firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and animal control officials. They also helped care for those animals evacuated from the fire who found temporary safety in an emergency animal shelter. Working under the directive of the Texas Animal Health Commission, this team, directed by Dr. Wesley Bissett, helped to provide care for more than 150 animals, many of which had burn injuries varying in severity. Their actions gave these animals the best chance for survival, and for the families of these pets, a chance to reclaim a part of their lives before the fires.
  • Chancellor John Sharp included the VET work in his comments made to KBTX-TV about the response of numerous Texas A&M agencies to this wildfire, and Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin included the efforts of the VET in his Campus News and Notes email (see the September 14, 2011, update). In recognizing the extraordinary effort of the VET, Dr. Dan Posey sent the following email to Dr. Bissett:

    Very few times in my life I have had the opportunity to witness something that just makes me step back and "Stand in Awe". This morning was one of those moments. As I was walking to my duty this morning, I saw a group of people that were deploying to the fires in Texas and going to help others and their animals. This is what I love about this place. Wesley, I know that there were months and years of planning, large hoops that everyone has to jump through to make this happen, and lots of things that were put on hold by your team members, literally having to put their lives on hold to help others. A few short years ago, you and I were sitting in Room 247 discussing the "Wild Fires in the Panhandle" and how the response was barely adequate. I look today and see our response team, V.E.T., from Texas A&M University going to help people and their animals. I know that there are loads of work still to be done on this process and lots of things to work out but I know that you took a problem that we both saw and you acted on it and you made a response team happen. I know what you will say, "I stand on the shoulders of giants, I didn't do this by myself, this was a team effort." Everyone sees this...but it took someone like yourself to put it to action what we both saw on that day! Thank you for being that person and thank your team members for running toward a crisis (fire, hurricane, flood...) and helping those fellow people that need our help. Thank you, "I stand in awe".


  • Daily updates posted to the college's website and Facebook page kept everyone informed of this extraordinary effort. On September 16, we welcomed the team safely home. A fund has been established for those wishing to donate to support the VET. To all members of the VET, we thank you for your service and for exemplifying the Aggie Spirit.
  • On September 12, we welcomed back former student, Dr. Jim Humphries, who built upon his recent training opportunity in Media Relations, by leading an interactive seminar on Crisis Communication. More than 40 participants learned firsthand how important responding to the media appropriately during a crisis can be. Following the lecture portion of the seminar, the audience broke up into groups to tackle a crisis and craft a response. Representatives of each group were then given the opportunity to go on camera in a mock interview. The training and experience was invaluable. We will continue to examine future communication topics and to schedule additional media training seminars. Faculty, staff, and students will be included, so watch your emails for future dates.
  • September was the month for big events. On Saturday, Sept. 17, we were joined by nearly 300 participants and their four-legged friends for the inaugural Paws to the Pavement Beat the Hell Outta Cancer Walk/Run. The event started with the firing of the Parson's Mounted Calvary cannon. At the conclusion of the walk, almost 100 people attended the Grand Opening Ceremony for the Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center, which was followed by tours of the facility. These special events required the hard work and dedication of a large team of people. Thanks to Angela Clendenin for overseeing this event and to all on the team for the weeks of planning, for coming out early on a Saturday, and most of all for organizing a most successful event.
  • I would also like to thank the Information Technology (IT) team. They have been working very hard to make the migration from GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook as seamless as possible for everyone. In addition to numerous training and Q&A sessions, the IT team has been working with all the network connections and servers to ensure that all will have access to email and information that they had prior to the switch. The IT team continues working to resolve whatever complications arise. Be sure to read the emails from our IT Services team about where we are in the process and what future steps will be made to better integrate the new system.
  • Mark your calendars for the final lecture of the World Veterinary Year lecture series. It will be held October 19 at the TIPS auditorium at 4:00 pm, and will feature Dean Sam Shomaker from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Dr. Alan Sams, Executive Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and me. We will highlight the One Health Plus initiative in a thought-provoking way. Join us as we look at how these three disciplines have worked in the past, and how we may come together in the future to address the needs of animal, public, and environmental health. There will be a reception immediately following in the TIPS lobby.

Eleanor M. Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP
Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M University
(979) 845-5053