Zoran Appointed Interim Director Of Veterinary Emergency Team

Story by Rachel Knight, VMBS Communications

Dr. Deb Zoran headshot
Dr. Deb Zoran

Dr. Debra “Deb” Zoran, a professor and clinical faculty member in the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (VMBS) Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has been appointed interim director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET). 

“Dr. Zoran demonstrates the drive to succeed and the passion for helping others that’s necessary for success in the relatively new field of veterinary disaster response and preparedness,” said Dr. John August, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “She’s been shaping the veterinary disaster response field since joining our faculty and has played a key role in the VET’s success up to this point. Her vision and leadership will continue to carry the team forward as it embarks on its next chapter under her leadership.”

A founding member of the VET, Zoran came to the VMBS in 1996 and began working with search and rescue dogs in 1997 when Texas A&M Task Force 1 (TX-TF1), a team under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Urban Search and Rescue System, was established.

“My work with TX-TF1 was both an introduction into disaster response and to working with the search and rescue dogs that help recover lost disaster victims and provide closure by locating those who’ve passed in the event,” Zoran said. “I knew the TX-TF1 people and dogs that deployed to 9/11, and those early experiences enhanced my work with the team that continues today.”

Her experience with TX-TF1 made Zoran a clear choice to serve on the VET’s leadership team when it was officially established in 2008.

In addition to leading the VET’s efforts in serving search and rescue dogs, Zoran has served as the operations chief during deployments; the team’s educational officer, a role in which she teaches the VET’s two-week clinical rotation designed to train future Aggie veterinarians in disaster preparedness and response; and as the team’s leading small animal veterinarian when serving community animals who’ve been affected by disasters. She also leads the team’s efforts in helping Texas counties develop disaster response plans.

Zoran will provide continuity as a founding VET member while also ushering in a new season of growth as only the second person to serve in the director position; she replaces Dr. Wesley Bissett, who served as VET director from its inception through July 2023, when he retired.

Zoran shared that her plan for the team is rooted in the VET’s mission statement — serving our state and nation every day.

VET vehicles under a blue sky

“My goals and aspirations for the VET are to stay true to our mission statement and to help each of our team members feel they are a part of something very special because they contribute to our success in meaningful ways,” Zoran said. “As we move forward, we will make some changes that I hope strengthen our team, our ability to be the very best veterinary emergency team, and our foundations.”

The VET is the largest, most sophisticated and most deployed veterinary response team in the country. The team has responded to tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes in Texas, while their out-of-state deployments so far include responding to two wildfires in California and to Hurricane Ian in Florida.

Zoran said she is excited to build on the team’s emergency deployment efforts while also building up the VET’s emergency management program.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to build upon what Dr. Bissett started and create the greatest veterinary emergency management program — not just a deployable team but a program — in the world,” she said. “I envision the VET’s emergency management program being one that not only trains new vet students but also veterinarians and post-doctoral fellowship trainees, one that creates future opportunities for others to join us and make this their specialty or discipline.”

Stepping into the role of VET interim director has been both an honor and a great responsibility, Zoran said.

“We are a group of people who want to be there when a community is in its greatest time of need,” she said. “We want to help their animals, we want to be there to help them start the healing process by reuniting them with their animals, and we want to be there to make sure they’re better prepared for the next disaster. It’s a tremendous privilege to be the person to lead people who want to be Aggies, who embrace Texas A&M’s selfless service principles, into the next disaster response, the next planning mission, and the next chapter of the VET.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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