VET Returns Home After Four-Day Deployment In Polk County

Story by Aubrey Bloom, CVMBS Communications

Like many others in Polk County, Texas, affected by the April 23 tornado, Karen Pruitt, Texas A&M Class of ’87, not only had damage to her property, but injuries to her animals as well.

So, when she saw the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) arrive, it was an uplifting moment in an otherwise trying time.

“Animals are first in our book; they are part of the family,” Pruitt said. “My friends at the Association of Former Students heard the VET was coming through social media and called me immediately. They told me ‘The Aggie vets are coming, and we’ll make sure they know where you are.’ My 83-year-old British mother was just like ‘Oh, the Aggies are coming!’ It just made her day. Then to see the truck drive up, she was like, ‘it’s just beautiful.’”

Pruitt, who is involved with a number of programs on the Texas A&M campus in College Station, said seeing the VET in action is one of her proudest moments as an Aggie.

“Not only is it that you know you’ve got the best, but it just warms your heart; it makes me more proud than I’ve ever been,” she said. “These veterinarians who have come here are just legendary; I know who they are. They don’t know me and they’re just so humble, which is typical Aggie style. It’s so nice. Knowing that you can rely on your Aggies is something every Aggie should do because they’re everywhere.”

Pruitt wasn’t the only person who sought the VET’s help. Over the last four days, the VET treated almost 90 animals, including Pruitt’s donkeys, in Polk County before returning to College Station on Tuesday (April 28).

Dr. Wesley Bissett, VET director, said that even though the direct mission of the team is helping animals, this deployment was another example of how helping those animals gives their owners something positive during a time that can be very emotional.

“The Texas A&M VET has, as its foundation, a history of standing up when things are difficult,” Bissett said. “As Aggies, that is our heritage, one that all of our team members embrace.”

VET group

While every VET deployment presents unique challenges, the Polk County deployment was the first during a pandemic. The team had to ensure that for the protection of themselves and clients, members followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment.

The tornado that struck Polk County, which was estimated by the National Weather Service to be an EF-3, cut a fairly narrow path, but did so over several miles, creating a sizeable area of damaged structures that made ascertaining the extent of the impact on the animal population difficult.

The team saw dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, and even a raccoon during the deployment, several of which were trapped under debris or were hiding in debris for extended amounts of time.

“The reality is that our team, in our own small way, is focused on helping people understand that everything will be OK through our providing care for disaster victims’ animals,” Bissett said. “In my mind, that is so incredibly important. People need to know that we will, indeed, make it through this. Whether it is the Polk County tornado or Covid-19, we will persevere.”

Learn more about this deployment: Texas A&M VET Deploys To Support Tornado Recovery


For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences;; 979-862-4216

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