Veterinarians Organize Corps

Across the United States small and large animal veterinarians are preparing for national emergencies at state levels. On Jan. 24, a number of veterinary professionals joined the Michigan Emergency Network (Vet Net), a veterinarian corps with a strong educational component in its mission. Approximately 20 states have formed similar veterinary corps.

Vet Net aims to keep veterinary teams on the lookout for bioterrorism in Michigan, said Nancy Frank, DVM, MPH, assistant state veterinarian. “I’ve found that many practicing small animal veterinarians don’t realize how important the role they can play is. We have such a broad background in animal medicine and disease that [we] can have an impact on all animal species and on public health as well,” Frank said.

Created by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, the state Department of Agriculture and Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, Vet Net is partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The veterinary corps is patterned after the Forest Service. Volunteers have assigned roles and responsibilities to streamline emergency operations and report to the Department of Agriculture.

Vet Net will work to keep the state’s 3,600 veterinarians updated on zoonotic diseases. The 60 veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students who have already joined will attend annual courses and be on call to respond to statewide emergencies, said Frank who hopes to attract 100 veterinary professionals across the state to act as animal inspectors, educators, client counselors and columnists to educate the public about bioterrorism.