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Veterinary Emergency Team Extends Deployment

SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 - As more of the area affected by the Bastrop Complex wildfire is brought under control, the number of animals being seen by the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team has been significantly reduced. However, the services of this special team are still needed to support local veterinarians and animal health officials with those animals remaining in emergency shelters.

"For now, it looks like we will be remaining at our present location here at the Bastrop Rodeo Complex until the end of the week," said Dr. Wesley Bissett, assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and director of the VET. "There are still some animals found in affected areas that need treatment, as well as the request from the State of Texas, Bastrop County, and the local private practitioners to continue our assistance with the care of the animals in the emergency shelters. It's our mission to make sure that we are doing all we can to support this community's veterinarians as they continue to respond to animal needs."

Dr. Bissett noted that as operations have slowed, he has been able to reflect on the opportunity this deployment has provided his team to meet and to work with new people.

"It's important for me to thank the members of the VET: Drs Howe, Mays, Dominguez, Easterwood, Sprake, and Norton; veterinary technicians Lessa Block, Dana Whitaker, Melissa Welch, and Carin Ponder; and senior veterinary students Jaci Carriker, Josh Shield, John Williams, Holly Marriott, Allegra Lamison, and Megan Gaines," said Bissett. "They have truly answered the call of animals in need by deploying as part of our team."

In addition, Bissett recognized the extraordinary efforts of the local veterinarians.

"We were able to work in cooperation with the skilled practitioners representing practices such as the Bastrop Animal Hospital, Hwy 71 Veterinary Hospital, and Crossroads Animal Hospital, as well as numerous other private practitioners, to deliver the very best care we could to not only the animals that were evacuated, but those that were rescued from the fire as well," said Bissett. "They have done an extraordinary job and it has been an honor to work with them."

Finally, Bissett noted the commitment and support the citizens of Bastrop provided the VET.

"The citizens of Bastrop have been very supportive of the response effort from law enforcement and emergency management personnel, to the first responders and the rest of the community," said Bissett. "I am amazed at their dedication and their resilience. It has been our pleasure to serve in their community."

So while those whose lives have been affected by the wildfire wait to begin the process of recovery, the members of the VET will continue their work, knowing that when they return to Texas A&M, they will have made a positive impact on the community in which they served and will have established strong connection to the citizens of Bastrop as well as their animals.

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