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VET Returns Home as Communities Begin to Recover, Rebuild

Posted September 12, 2017

BeaumontDemobilizationThe Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) at Texas A&M University will begin their return home to College Station this week. The counties where they were requested to assist are now beginning to rebuild their lives and towns to return to everyday life and are comfortable about their ability to respond to the veterinary needs of their neighbors.

“As our Hurricane Harvey response winds down, we are forever grateful to so many,” said VET director Dr. Wesley Bissett. “We would like to express how thankful we are to have had the opportunity to reach out to so many coastal communities in need while they responded to rebuild after this devastating storm.”

Harvey required an animal response effort bigger than any one team, and with the help of multiple agencies, private practitioners, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians from across the country, the team was humbled to play a part in providing hope and peace of mind to those who requested VET’s services.

“We were amazed to see how citizens and the veterinary medical community, including organized veterinary medicine, veterinary medical education organizations, and the pharmaceutical and distribution industries, rallied around the impacted communities and their animals,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University.

“These groups—along with numerous individuals, families, business owners, and college donors—provided support in so many different ways. Their generous donations allowed our team to provide the structure for veterinarians from around the state and nation to come together in a safe, accountable, and organized way and to join our college's team to help solve the myriad of issues faced by animals during a crisis such as Hurricane Harvey,” Green said. “The VET approach and this support allowed our team to be self-sustainable and part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. The VET starts each day with a briefing that ends with 'What problem can we solve for this community today?'”

Over the next week or so, the team will be sharing some additional thoughts and reflections from this deployment, but until then, they have felt blessed to have been able to offer a helping hand in those counties that requested them by providing much-needed veterinary care for animals impacted by Harvey until the local practices were again up, operational, and able to care for their neighbors.

This response, as are all of the VET’s activities, is a college-wide effort. There are members of the CVM family that are taking on additional hours and responsibilities to cover for every member that deploys.

The CVM VET also assisted through providing care for animals that were transported out of the impact area to our college’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to receive continued care.  This required that our faculty, staff and students all take on additional hours and responsibilities to provide care for Hurricane Harvey victims in addition to maintaining the exceptional level of care they already provide.

“Time and again, our system of responding to animal issues, even in the face of the largest impact area ever faced, proves to be a great benefit to the state of Texas and is currently being discussed as a national model,” Bissett said.

“Many thanks to the veterinarians, staff, administrators, and students who deployed, and thanks to the people who supported us with encouragement, prayers, and their generosity,” Green said. “Many wonderful people in the community provided meals, helped launder clothes, and provided support in more ways than we can list here, even as they were struggling to regroup in their own communities. We are grateful to them.”

Although the team is coming home, they are still involved, providing assistance as needed and ready to deploy again when needed. Aggies are #TexasStrong.

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