September is National Disaster Preparedness Month
Posted August 31, 2017
When a disaster strikes, there is often little
time to prepare our homes, families, and pets for the damage to
come. Thankfully, disaster relief teams, such as the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’
Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), can help in times of need.
Dr. Angela Clendenin, public information officer for the VET,
explained the multiple responsibilities of the team.
“People are often unable to evacuate their pets to safety before
a disaster hits, which may mean separation from owners and access
to food and clean water,” Clendenin said. “The debris and
pollutants in the environment as a result of a disaster can also
lead to injuries. The VET serves to provide support for animal
care until the local veterinary community is able to take over and
care for their fellow residents and their pets.”
Another responsibility of the VET is providing veterinary
support and care to the search and rescue canines operating in the
“Veterinary care has been shown to extend the ability of search
and rescue dogs to work in the field from three to four days to six
to eight days,” Clendenin said.
As Texans recover from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane
Harvey, the VET is deployed and helping furry friends that were
impacted by the disaster. Luckily for animals in the area, the VET
is experienced in treating multiple species. Additionally, the VET
is equipped to help animals in any health condition.
“The types of injuries the VET sees include burns, salt
toxicity, toxicity due to contaminated water or grass, lacerations,
broken bones, snake bites, and injuries due to flying debris,”
Clendenin said. “Most of the diagnostic and treatment tools used by
the VET is similar to that found in any veterinary clinic, but one
unique piece of equipment developed and used by the VET is a
self-contained decontamination unit. The unit is designed to allow
two people to safely and effectively wash and rinse contaminants
off dogs and smaller mammals. Contaminated water is then collected
in a tank for appropriate disposal.”
As part of National Disaster Preparedness Month, Clendenin
reminded pet owners to make an emergency pet kit for when
disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, impact our lives.
“One of the best ways to prepare your pet for a potential
disaster is to create a ‘go kit’ of necessary documents and
supplies, which people can easily grab and transport with them in
the event of an evacuation,” Clendenin said. “In the case that pet
and livestock owners get separated, this kit should include
photos of pets and descriptions of where livestock is located,
using GIS coordinates, if possible. Ensuring your pets and
livestock are microchipped or visibly tagged or marked is also a
way to identify animals and establish ownership.”
In addition, be sure to pack a few days’ supply of food, water,
medications, and comfort items for your pets. If you would like
more information on what to pack in your emergency kit, Clendenin
recommended visiting https://www.ready.gov/animals.
Disasters are unpredictable and can cause serious damage to our
homes and loved ones, including our pets. A disaster can happen to
anyone at any time, so be sure to take caution and prepare.
Follow the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team on
To learn more about the Texas A&M VET, visit tx.ag/VETSpirit2017.
To support the Texas A&M VET with a contribution the
Veterinary Emergency Disaster Relief Fund, visit tx.ag.CVMVETFund.
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