Mission assignments were falling into place last night when the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sent its seventh disaster update in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As of 11:30 pm CDT yesterday (Sept. 1), here were the locations and assignments of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT) in Mississippi and Louisiana, which were deployed earlier in the week:

  • VMAT-1 arrived in Baton Rouge, La. at 10:30 pm on Sept. 1. Its mission includes three goals:
    •  To assist the state veterinarian with agricultural and veterinary facility assessments
    •  To assess issues at the zoo; and
    • To assist (with veterinary care at) animal drop-off locations once established.
  • VMAT-2 will likely be stationed in Biloxi, Miss.
  • VMAT-3 had arrived in Jackson, Miss., with a state mission assignment to do initial assessments in Mississippi.
  • VMAT-5 had moved into Baton Rouge yesterday (Sept. 1) and was to begin assessments first thing this morning with VMAT-1.

The update said, "Under the direction of the state veterinarian, the VMATs will begin with overall assessments of veterinary facilities, animal issues, and public health issues starting on 9/2/05."

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is looking for volunteer veterinarians to assist in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts and assistance in future natural and animal disease emergencies. If you are a veterinarian and are interested in volunteering, send an e-mail to EmergencyVMO@aphis.usda.gov, with the subject line "New NAHERC Volunteer," for more information on how you can get involved.

Reports from the Field
In Alabama, the AVMA reports that veterinary facility damage has been minor. "One area of need in the state is the number of refugees (and their pets) from Mississippi and Louisiana that are in need of care and services." The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association is looking at long-term care for the pets and the people. Assistance in the form of financial contributions to the Alabama Veterinary Medical Foundation (P.O. Box 3514, Montgomery, AL 36109) marked for “disaster relief” can be used to help offset some of the cost of care and housing costs for these pets.

The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association and the Board of Veterinary Medicine has reported that many animal clinics and hospitals have likely suffered considerable damage in areas south of I-20. "Phone service to the area is poor right now," continued the report.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation has established a fund to support animal care and rescue efforts and to help restore veterinary services in the hurricane-impacted areas.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Association has also set up an Internet-based matching service to match veterinarians displaced by the disaster with Texas clinics that are willing to employ them on a short-term basis. Veterinarians not licensed to practice in Texas must contact the Texas State Board of Veterinary Examiners and apply for a provisional license.  The cost of this license is $255, but Pfizer Animal Health has agreed to pay this cost for the first 100 veterinarians to apply in the next 90 days. Information on either of these programs is available at 800/489-7347, or www.tvma.org and www.tvma.org.

The AVMA report also included a summary of an AP story (from WWLTV of New Orleans' news blog at www.wwltv.com) about the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association's acceptance of pets at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, Louisiana State University (LSU) in Shreveport, the Monroe Civic Center for small animals, and the Ike Hamilton Center in Monroe for large animals.

Pets were also being accepted at the Farmer's Market in Alexandria, La., and at the LSU Agriculture Center at Parker Coliseum in Baton Rouge.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) puts out a daily situation report detailing its relief effort (the. The Sept. 1 report said seven assistance teams had begun conducting damage and needs assessments from Jackson, Miss. south to the Hattiesburg area. The DART teams in Mississippi were pushing to get help in Gulfport, but were finding that particular routes were only open to state-authorized emergency vehicles. Teams in New Orleans were helping transport animals for owners who were evacuating on buses to Houston.

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.

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