Veterinary Colleges Accommodate Displaced Animals, Human Patients in Wake of Hurricanes

In the wake of Hurricanes Wilma, Rita, and Katrina, news continues to trickle in about heroic efforts made by students and faculty at veterinary colleges. At Texas A&M University, a facility for large animals offered temporary shelter for several human patients. Louisiana State University (LSU) has spent about $500,000 caring for sick animals, providing local veterinarians with supplies and serving as a shelter location. And the list goes on. In an attempt to recognize and support those efforts, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) recently announced the creation of a disaster fund to pay for expenses incurred by member colleges that are not reimbursed by local, state, federal, or donation dollars. The AAVMC board of directors committed to $50,000 in matching grants for the fund during a Sept. 6 meeting, and the hope is that the fund will ultimately have $100,000, according to Lawrence Heider, DVM, AAVMC executive director.

“We do not want such [costs] to cut into their regular activities,” Heider said. “We see this as a safety net fund for our member institutions.” Heider does not expect to see activity with the fund until “the dust has settled” from the hurricanes.

He added, “We see this as a long-term effort, and do not want to compete with any of the urgent needs.” At press time, the fund had $35,000, including $20,000 from the AAVMC and $15,000 in outside donations.

For practitioners affected by the hurricanes, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has an online grant form available, and practitioners have been encouraged to ask for $2,000. For prevention and recovery, the AVMA has published a free brochure with disaster preparedness and recovery information.