Wildfire Disaster Relief

horses in burned fieldPhoto courtesy of UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine

UC Davis Responds to Wildfires

A series of unseasonable lightning storms lit up the Northern California sky on several nights in mid-August. While presenting a spectacular display, the lightning unfortunately sparked several wildfires throughout the area. The LNU Lightning Complex Fire started about 35 miles west of the UC Davis campus, and at its closest came within approximately 15 miles of the school. Several members of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) were personally affected by the fire, with many having to evacuate their homes.

In addition, UC Davis treated and discharged animals from the hospital as quickly as safely possible to treat the greatest number of patients. This involved returning animals to owners or evacuation centers when possible and utilizing a network of foster homes for others. In previous fire responses, the hospital had more capacity to keep some animals for longer-term non-critical care.

This field-first approach allowed VERT to evaluate, triage, and/or treat more than 1,000 animals at evacuation centers and those sheltering in place on ranches. Nearly 30 veterinarians, staff, and students comprised VERT’s Avian, Livestock, and Equine Strike Teams that cared for chickens, geese, ducks, emus, guinea fowl, goats, pigs, sheep, cattle, alpacas, horses, and donkeys. The teams also conducted animal search and rescue missions throughout the fire zone.

Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine Responds to Wildfires

“Because of the thoughtful generosity from the AVMF in support of the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine’s response to the recent Oregon wildfires, the College’s team of dedicated experts have been able to provide necessary and meaningful emergency resources when our community needed it most.  All of which was made that much more possible with the strength and support of donors like you behind them.  On behalf of our entire community, I think you for your commitment to transforming lives at Oregon State.”  Tyrell Warren-Burnett, Senior Director of Annual Giving Oregon State University Foundation. 

Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine
Photo courtesy of the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine

As our world continues to change before our eyes, there has never been more need for our veterinary medical expertise. Veterinary students have answered the call across the country to respond to natural disasters, putting boots on the ground and providing care and assistance to their communities. These students have gone above and beyond to give back, while juggling an education drastically affected by COVID-19, exemplifying resiliency.

A word from students who participated in the relief efforts

“An incredible team of people at the Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine have been working extremely hard to launch a veterinary wildfire response team to serve local emergency response locations at fairgrounds and expo centers. Additionally, CCVM is providing hospitalized care to large or small animals injured or ill as a result of the wildfires and evacuation endeavors. Faculty continues to be available to provide consultation related to emergency and critical care for these animals as well. More than 110 CCVM veterinarians, technicians, staff and students have volunteered in these efforts.

Since efforts began, more than 1,400 animals have been served! Veterinarians and veterinary students have been visiting several locations daily and visiting state fairgrounds on an as needed basis. They perform wellness checks and address urgent medical needs on animals including horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, emus, cats, dogs and rabbits. An excellent way to support animals affected by these wildfires is to support veterinary wildfire response efforts by donating to the CCVM Wildfire Response.

The 2020 wildfires have burned over 950,000 acres in Oregon alone — destroying land, homes and lives. As members of Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, we saw a need to serve our community through additional disaster relief efforts. Initially, we worked to hold a pet food drive and started a GoFundMe to provide immediate support for those evacuees with animals. We have taken Subarus full of pet food (over 2,000 pounds!) and supplies to rescues, shelters and emergency response centers in three counties. We are continuing to communicate and work with local organizations to provide support until all of the impending threat of fire is gone for the season. We will continue to leave the GoFundMe account for the immediate distribution of food and supplies to aid in the triage and return of animals to their humans open until the situation dictates that there is no longer any need for assistance due to this season’s wildfire disaster.”

The AVMF would like to acknowledge the highly appreciated grant from the Susan Dee Schnitzer Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation in the amount of $2,500 for Disaster Relief. AVMF would also like to acknowledge VCA Animal Hospital and VCA Charities for their generous donation to support those working in the veterinary profession.