Veterinary emergency team responds to injured animals in Bastrop

Sep 16, 2011
by WLJ

The existing wildfire situations across the state of Texas have The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) emergency responders currently working in Bastrop, Travis, Cass, and Waller counties. The TAHC is the lead state agency for livestock related disaster response and continues to provide assessments of animal needs in the affected areas while working closely with local authorities to resolve those needs. The TAHC staffed the State Operations Center (SOC) in support of response operations.

In addition, a number of local veterinarians have taken in displaced animals and treated injured or burned animal patients. The TAHC and Texas A&M VET, along with Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) are working closely to support veterinarians and their needs. “To our knowledge, no veterinary clinics have been destroyed by the fires and many remain open and actively involved,” Dr. Tommy Barton, Region 7 Director, said.

The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team is continuing their response effort in Bastrop, and have now moved their base of operations closer to the front line on the southeast side of the community. Their continuing mission is providing support and care for search and rescue dogs, as well as a triage of animals brought in from areas that have been cleared for animal control officials to enter.

“We now have both of our response trailers in operation,” said Dr. Wesley Bissett, assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “In addition, we have a field service vehicle available which allows us to be more flexible in our response. Primarily we continue to see small animals with burn injuries, but we are prepared for whatever comes our way. We are beginning to rotate some of our staff this weekend, and will have three new veterinary medical students joining our efforts.”

Bissett noted that a response to animals in the midst of a disaster this size is only possible through organized cooperation, coordination, and teamwork.

Dr. Terry Hensley, assistant executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission, agrees with Bissett.

“We are glad we have such a reliable partner in the CVM VET,” said Hensley. “Our organizations have a variety of skills that complement each other in our shared mission of addressing the needs of animals in disaster situations.” —WLJ