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Members of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) worked with urban search and rescue teams and their canine partners on Jan. 22 and 23 at Disaster City, a disaster training area arranged by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). As a part of the 2016 Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Canine Workshop, trainers from Texas Task Force 1 hosted approximately 60 teams from all over the United States.
The unique disaster training program gave Texas A&M veterinary students hands-on experience caring for animals in future catastrophic events, such as tornados, hurricanes, and even radiation disasters. In addition to treating pets, veterinary students were able to help train and care for search dogs.
“Our role at Disaster City was to provide veterinary support in the case of an emergency, answer questions about canine health important to search dogs, and perform physical exams on each search dog after they completed their work to be sure they did not get overheated or have an undetected injury,” said Dr. Debra Zoran, professor and operations supervisor of the VET. “The most common injuries found in search dogs were feet and pad injuries, cuts or scrapes, lacerations and gastrointestinal distress from travel and work away from home.”
For many students, the disaster training program was their first opportunity to work with search dogs.
“Veterinary students participating in the training program had the opportunity to learn about working with search dogs, which was a completely new discipline for most students. They also got the opportunity to participate in the search dog training activities, such as hiding in the rubble so the dogs could practice finding victims of the disaster.”