September is National Disaster Preparedness Month
When a disaster strikes, there is often little time to prepare our homes, families, and pets for the damage to come
When a disaster strikes, there is often little time to prepare our homes, families, and pets for the damage to come. Thankfully, disaster relief teams, such as the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), can help in times of need.
Angela Clendenin, public information officer for the VET, explained the multiple responsibilities of the team.
“People are often unable to evacuate their pets to safety before a disaster hits, which may mean separation from owners and access to food and clean water,” Clendenin said. “The debris and pollutants in the environment as a result of a disaster can also lead to injuries. The VET serves to provide support for animal care until the local veterinary community is able to take over and care for their fellow residents and their pets.”
Another responsibility of the VET is providing veterinary support and care to the search and rescue canines operating in the disaster area.
“Veterinary care has been shown to extend the ability of search and rescue dogs to work in the field from three to four days, to six to eight days,” Clendenin said.
As Texans recover from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey, the VET is deployed and helping furry friends that were impacted by the disaster. Luckily for animals in the area, the VET is experienced in treating multiple species. Additionally, the VET is equipped to help animals in any health condition.
“The types of injuries the VET sees include burns, salt toxicity, toxicity due to contaminated water or grass, lacerations, broken bones, snake bites, and injuries due to flying debris,” Clendenin said. “Most of the diagnostic and treatment tools used by the VET is similar to that found in any veterinary clinic, but one unique piece of equipment developed and used by the VET is a self-contained decontamination unit. The unit is designed to allow two people to safely and effectively wash and rinse contaminants off dogs and smaller mammals. Contaminated water is then collected in a tank for appropriate disposal.”
As part of National Disaster Preparedness Month, Clendenin reminded pet owners to make an emergency pet kit for when disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, impact our lives.
“One of the best ways to prepare your pet for a potential disaster is to create a ‘go kit’ of necessary documents and supplies, which people can easily grab and transport with them in the event of an evacuation,” Clendenin said. “In the case that pet and livestock owners get separated, this kit should include photos of pets and descriptions of where livestock is located, using GIS coordinates, if possible. Ensuring your pets and livestock are microchipped or visibly tagged or marked is also a way to identify animals and establish ownership.”
In addition, be sure to pack a few days’ supply of food, water, medications, and comfort items for your pets. If you would like more information on what to pack in your emergency kit, Clendenin recommended visiting https://www.ready.gov/animals.
Disasters are unpredictable and can cause serious damage to our homes and loved ones, including our pets. A disaster can happen to anyone at any time, so be sure to take caution and prepare.