Notes from the Field, VMAT-2, Sept. 10, evening

Following is a report from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Veterinary Medical Assistance Team 2 (VMAT-2) now working in Gulfport, Miss.

Team members, Army personnel, and Humane Society volunteers have spent the last couple of days building, equipping, and setting up the field veterinary hospital. Today is the first day of accepting patients; doors are open from 8 am to 6 pm.

The team has two 19 x 35 foot tents; installed A/C today to everyone’s relief. 

The first tent is the reception area where people walk in and register their pet or get information about animals they are looking for.   Here they may pick up pet foods, supplies such as carriers, litter boxes, flea and tick shampoo, and other daily requirements of animals. These supplies are needed because there are no stores that normally sell this stuff left.

Second is the hospital tent. As of noon, had already seen 30+ animals. A couple resulted in euthanasia (puppies, etc., that were overwhelmed by the storm distress and sickness), but mostly very positive outcomes with assistance to owners who have nothing for their animals, not even food bowls!

Facilities include X ray capability from a local clinic and an Idex machine donated to do blood analysis (complete with a technician to run it!), an anesthesia machine for emergency use, and all supplies for any other modern clinic--all in a tent!  Normally all they will provide is minor surgeries with local anaesthesia or simple suturing.

The number one problems they are seeing are dermatitis, cuts, abrasions, and some dehydration.

Otherwise major surgeries and difficult, long term care is referred to a local clinic. Within an area that normally has 40+ vet clinics, the 10 that are currently open need the business to get back on their feet.

Sheltering for horses, exotics, dogs, and cats is immediately referred to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They are currently about 50% capacity in Hattiesburg, Miss. They opened a new shelter in Hancock County today.  

Positive Notes

On Wednesday at Waveland in Hancock County, one team was trying to locate a dog while working with the USAR team from Tupelo, Miss. One member noticed a moving mud pile that turned out to be a dog wrapped with power lines and buried under the mud, for DAYS!  Using bottles of water, and with help from the sherriff’s deputies, members cleaned the dog off. It was very dehydrated and malnutrition. Now named Tupelo, the small hound or bird dog is recovering at the shelter. 

Yesterday (Sept. 9), Allan Schwartz of Day’s End Horse Rescue from Lisbon, Md., and his team picked up three horses whose obvious starvation\neglect began long before the hurricane. The horses were transported to the HSUS shelter.

There are many shipments of donations and the team is trying to organize all the stuff!  FEMA has been providing necessary stuff and the Army has been very helpful with organizing and flow of supplies.

VMAT-2 personnel have Homeland Security police with them 24 hours a day. They are located all the groups together to improve communications right on the main drag thru Gulfport. The groups include the HSUS, Humane Society of Southern Mississippi, local animal control, and other animal groups are right there for improved communication.

The mounted police horses here working from Jacksonville, Fla., and other locals were to be vaccinated this afternoon by VMAT – 2. They will check out the horses like they have been doing with the SAR dogs looking for injuries, sickness, or problems that could affect the animal’s ability to work. This is with the understanding that catching anything early makes it easier to treat!

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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