TAHC Responds to Raging Wildfires Across Texas

The wildfires across the state of Texas have necessitated assistance of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) emergency responders in Bastrop and Travis Counties in the south central part of the state, Cass County in Eastern Texas, and Waller County in South East Texas. The TAHC is the lead state agency for livestock-related disaster response and continues to provide assessments of animal needs--including horses--in the affected areas while working closely with local authorities to resolve those needs.

As part of the state's animal response team, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) has a 13-member team working with the local sheriff's department and animal control officers to triage and stabilize animals being removed from the burned areas in Bastrop County and to provide any necessary veterinary care to the search and rescue canines deployed for service.

According to Russell Iselt, Region 7 supervising inspector, the TAHC has been assisting local livestock officials in escorting producers into affected/restricted areas to help or allow them to feed and water their horses and livestock.

A number of local veterinarians have taken in displaced horses and other animals, and treated injured or burned animal patients. The TAHC and Texas A&M VET, along with Texas Veterinary Medical Association, are working closely to support veterinarians and their needs.

"To our knowledge, no veterinary clinics have been destroyed by the fires and many remain open and actively involved," said Tommy Barton, DVM, TAHC Region 7 director.

"Several organizations/agencies are involved in an emergency situation such as the current wildfires," said Terry Hensley, DVM, TAHC assistant executive director. "It takes a great deal of team work to address and meet all needs. We are proud to assist the citizens of Texas in resolving animal related disasters and to partner with several state agencies and industry groups that all have a variety of skills that complement each other in our shared mission of addressing the needs of animals in disaster situations."

State officials remind Texans about the continued extreme wildfire danger throughout the state. Residents are urged to be cautious, stay alert, and be smart when partaking in activities that involve fire. Most counties in Texas are under burn bans, so obey the burn bans as they apply, officials added.

As the TAHC continues to monitor wildfire situations across the state and assist as emergency situations arise, Amanda Bernhard, TAHC emergency management coordinator, added, "You should always try to take your pets and livestock with you if at all possible if a fire occurs, but if you are not able to, make sure to contact the local livestock deputies and animal control officers to find out where animals displaced by the fires have been taken for shelter."

For TAHC's current wildfire response and involvement information, find the TAHC on Facebook at facebook.com/TexasAHC or Twitter at twitter.com/TAHC.

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