According to the latest Hurricane Katrina disaster update from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) at 9:00 pm CDT on Aug. 31, four Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT) were deployed and awaiting mission assignments for various devastated areas.

The VMAT teams were to begin with "overall assessments of veterinary facilities, animal issues, and public health issues. The main goal will be to coordinate efforts with the veterinary community, state and local authorities, and humane organizations," said the update. Until assessments are made, it will be difficult to tell how area horses were impacted by Hurricane Katrina, which tore through Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this week.

Here are the locations of the deployed VMAT teams as of last night:

  • VMAT-1: Dr. Barry Kellogg is deputy team commander for VMAT and was stationed in Baton Rouge, La., awaiting approval for his 25-member team to move from Dallas/Fort Worth into Louisiana.
  • VMAT-2: Twenty-one members arrived in Anniston, Ala., yesterday to await a state mission assignment.
  • VMAT-3: Twenty-five members were arriving in Jackson, Miss., with a state mission assignment to do initial assessments.
  • VMAT-5, with 25 members deployed, was staged in Dallas/Fort Worth awaiting mission assignment from Louisiana.

In the meantime, the AVMA was keeping a list of veterinarians who wanted to volunteer their services. Since volunteers aren't part of an existing response team structure, and it is of utmost importance for relief efforts to be organized to minimize casualties, generally the veterinary volunteers cannot be utilized. However, they were asked to send names to to be added to a list that is distributed daily to the responding humane organizations, VMATs, and state veterinarians. Any veterinarians interested in joining VMAT are encouraged to visit for more information.

David G. Baker, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACLAM, director and professor in the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine at Louisiana State University's (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine, reported to the AVMA that roughly 100,000 evacuees had come into Baton Rouge. Therefore, accommodations are at a minimum. "While some have offered to come to Baton Rouge to provide veterinary care, there is really no place to house you," he warned. "The LSU faculty and veterinary students, local private practitioners, practitioners displaced from the New Orleans area, the AVMA's VMAT, and others are or will be providing veterinary care."

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) also filed a report in the AVMA update. At LSU, individuals are dealing with downed trees and power outages, but the campus did not suffer damage in the hurricane. Classes were canceled until Sept. 6 since so many students and their families were affected. Two displaced animal shelters were being set up on and near LSU's Baton Rouge campus. Donations are being collected for that cause: Checks can be made payable to The Walter J. Ernst Veterinary Memorial Foundation (Disaster Relief Fund in the memo line) and sent to the LVMA (Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association), 8550 United Plaza Blvd., Suite 1001, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.

According to the AAVMC report, an unnamed staff member from Mississippi State University reported to the AAVMC, "Despite downed trees, power outages, and water damage, everyone is safe. Many students, faculty, and staff have lost their homes. About 50 students have families in southern Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, who they are still trying to reach."

Look for continued updates on The

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More