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Members of Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team deploy to help animals displaced by wildfires

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 18:11:07-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Nine members of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) and six agents from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be deploying to Butte County, California on Saturday to help care for animals displaced by the ongoing wildfires.

The VET deployed to the same area last December to provide oversight on sheltering, inventory and data management, veterinary medical support for injured and ill animals, and efforts to reunite animals with their owners.

"Our deployment to the camp wildfires in December 2018 and January 2019 set the stage for this request," said VET director Dr. Wesley Bissett.

"We have a close working relationship with the community we are being deployed to and our capabilities are well known to them. Our primary role will be to provide consistency in operational management and veterinary medical care," he said. "They have an outstanding group of people at the local level and I know we will all work together for the sake of the animals, their owners, and Butte County, California."

The team's mission will be to support three area shelters that have taken in almost 500 animals that have been displaced by the wildfires.

The VET will bring their experience in managing emergency shelters and situations to help ease the stress being put on the local responders.

The initial team deploying includes four veterinarians, two veterinary technicians, and three logistics and support personnel.

"Anytime you go into out-of-state deployments, there is an element of uncertainty that is based on being so distant from the impact area," Bissett said. "There is always a discovery phase during which you work to understand, specifically, what is needed so that your team can contribute to the success of the jurisdiction you are serving."

This isn't the first time this year that the VET has assisted with the ongoing wildfire efforts.

Dr. Deb Zoran, a VET member and professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recently deployed to Oregon to assist with FEMA Incident Support search and rescue dogs working in a particularly hazardous area.

For updates on the deployment, follow the VET on Facebook and Twitter and online at tx.ag/VETteam.