The American Veterinary Medical Association and its foundation are working to distribute donated supplies to veterinary clinics impacted by Hurricane Sandy and assisting veterinarians who are providing emergency care to animals in the region, the organizations reported.
In addition, four Veterinary Medical Assistance Team members are helping clean oil off sea birds and other wildlife caught in a storm-related oil spill in New Jersey. The animals are being sent to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Delaware, where the team members and other volunteers are treating the wildlife.
“The storm has really been far more devastating than anyone could have anticipated, particularly along the shore," AVMA president Douglas Aspros, DVM, said Thursday. “Organizations like the AVMA and AVMF are uniquely qualified to understand the needs of veterinarians in an emergency. We can’t always provide everything that they might need, but we can provide help in a strategic and effective way."
Besides the team members assigned to Delaware, team leader Patty Klein was dispatched to the government's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., where she helped assess the damage to veterinary facilities on the East Coast.
“We’re all family in veterinary medicine,” Dr. Aspros said. “Individual veterinarians have offered assistance to their colleagues in the affected areas. This is not only helpful in delivering necessary aid, but it’s also heartwarming.”
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is receiving applications for grants that will be awarded over coming months to veterinary clinics and facilities in the affected areas, executive director Michael Cathey said.
“In partnership with our donors, we are very pleased to be able provide direct support to veterinarians on the front lines, who are providing medical care and other support to the animals affected by this disaster,” Cathey said. “As each request comes in for help, we also look for more donations to our programs to help keep funds available for veterinary clinics that will need our help to continue animal care.”
While hundreds of thousands of pets and livestock were displaced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, shelter populations were much smaller after Hurricane Sandy, an indication that more people were able to keep their pets and livestock safe during the storm, the AVMA noted.
“Since Katrina, we’ve developed educational materials, such as video, to inform the general public and developed new partnerships involving other emergency-response organizations," said Heather Case, DVM, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM, director of the AVMA's Scientific Activities Division. "As we’ve seen in this storm, our efforts have proven effective.
“Not only did we learn that pet and livestock owners have really taken to heart the suggestions that they needed to include their animals in any evacuation plan, but the animal emergency response efforts have been far more organized and effective than they were during Katrina,” she added.