Veterinary response team takes action to care for animals injured by massive Texas wildfire


Bastrop County, Texas -- A Texas veterinary response team has been deployed to find and care for animal victims following a major wildfire in the state.

Bastrop County, Texas

-- A Texas veterinary response team has been deployed to care for animal victims following a massive wildfire that claimed 35,000 acres so far.

While the fire is considered 50 percent contained, it has resulted in an estimated 100 animal victims.More than 1,300 firefighters are battling the Bastrop wildfire, and a 13-member Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (TAMU) was deployed as part of a larger animal response team.

It's a major event in a drought-strickened state that has seen wildfires claim some 4 million acres already this year, according to the Texas Forest Service.

VET, led by TAMU assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences Dr. Wesley Bissett, is working with local law enforcement and animal-control officers to triage and stabilize animals removed from scorched areas in Bastrop County. The team is also providing veterinary care to search-and-rescue dogs deployed with Texas Task Force 1, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).

Local veterinarians have taken in and treated injured and burned animals displaced by the fires, and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is providing support. No veterinary clinics have been destroyed by fires, according to Dr. Tommy Barton, TAHC’s Region 7 director.

Since deploying last week, Texas VET has seen about 100 small animals brought in by first responders, 50 of which needed extensive treatment, according to TAMU. A few large animals have been brought in, as well.

“Can you imagine how these animals survived?” asks Bissett. “It is the duty of our profession to take care of their needs. They are important. They may be all a family has left of their former life.”

Search-and-rescue dogs are being treated with fluid therapy, and for injuries resulting from working across a rough, hot terrain, Bissett adds.

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