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Excluded but not forgotten: Veterinary emergency care during emergencies and disasters

Niels D. Martin, MD, Jose L. Pascual, MD, PhD, FACS, FCCM, FRCSC, Julie Hirsch, CVT, VTS(ECC), Daniel N. Holena, MD, MCSE, Lewis J. Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCM, FCCP


Background: Disasters or crises impact humans, pets, and service animals alike. Current preparation at the federal, state, and local level focuses on preserving human life. Hospitals, shelters, and other human care facilities generally make few to no provisions for companion care nor service animal care as part of their disaster management plan. Abandoned animals have infectious disease, safety and psychologic impact on owners, rescue workers, and those involved in reclamation efforts. Animals working as first responder partners may be injured or exposed to biohazards and require care.

Data sources: English language literature available via PubMed as well as lay press publications on emergency care, veterinary care, disaster management, disasters, biohazards, infection, zoonosis, bond-centered care, preparedness, bioethics, and public health. No year restrictions were set.

Conclusions: Human clinician skills share important overlaps with veterinary clinician skills; similar overlaps occur in medical and surgical emergency care. These commonalities offer the potential to craft-specific and disaster or crisis-deployable skills to care for humans, pets (dogs and cats), service animals (dogs and miniature horses) and first-responder partners (dogs) as part of national disaster healthcare preparedness. Such a platform could leverage the skills and resources of the existing US trauma system to underpin such a program.


disaster care, veterinary medicine, preparedness, public health, bioethics

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