New emergency program to help care for animals in disasters
University of California, Davis, leaders, veterinarians and California legislators today unveiled a new emergency program to help care for animals in disasters. Called the California Veterinary Emergency Team and administered by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the program will support and train a network of government agencies, individuals and organizations to respond to domestic animals and livestock affected during emergencies.
California is providing $3 million a year for the California Veterinary Emergency Team, under legislation authored by Sen. Steve Glazer and incorporated into the state budget recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The program will be modeled after the UC Davis-led Oiled Wildlife Care Network, created in 1994 to mobilize volunteers and professionals to rescue and treat shorebirds and other wildlife that are injured during oil spills.
“We want to create a robust, coordinated effort statewide to help animals during disasters,” said Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and executive director of the One Health Institute. “The California Veterinary Emergency Team will bring together state and county agencies and organizations charged with emergency response to help them organize, train and adopt best practices.”
A primary goal of the new California Veterinary Emergency Team is to increase response capacity and help standardize disaster response across counties, bringing together disparate and fragmented groups. Currently, the California Animal Response Emergency System, or CARES, within the California Department of Food and Agriculture is charged with managing evacuation and care of animals during emergencies. They also work with community animal response teams and nonprofit organizations.
The California Veterinary Emergency Team would be available to support mobilization to disasters anywhere in California, operating under a memorandum of understanding with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Office of Emergency Services. Between disasters, the team would recruit, train and drill volunteers, conduct research, and train veterinarians and veterinary students on best practices in shelter and emergency medicine.