Pet Preparedness: How Veterinary Technicians Help Their Communities
Published on June 10, 2019 by Krissy Jackson
Veterinary technicians have an important role in the communities to help administer services and help in weather emergencies. Veterinary technicians help in pet preparedness by helping inform pet owners about safety, but also administering services.
Severe Weather Workshops for Displaced Animals
One action a veterinary technician can take is to offer a workshop on sheltering displaced animals during weather emergencies. Emergency clinics or veterinary practices could offer pet preparedness workshops to educate staff at animal hospitals, people who foster animals, and rescue groups about caring for pets during a weather crisis. Pet preparedness is critical in our communities to ensure that our pets and animals are cared for.
Displaced animal programs should focus on:
- Local resources that can be used for evacuating pets and livestock
- Pet safety precautions during a weather emergency
- Pet preparedness plans for pets
- Evaluating the effectiveness of fairgrounds or other facilities for sheltering displaced pets
- Evaluating all the procedures for opening a temporary emergency shelter
By participating in the workshop, local youth became more knowledgeable about community pet preparedness plans during a weather emergency. Participants learn an important life skill by developing family pet preparedness plans and learn to remain positive under stress during local animal emergency preparations.
Medicine That Animals May Need During A Weather Crisis
Don’t wait until a weather emergency is imminent. You should prepare an emergency kit for each of your pets and include all the current medications they’re taking. During a weather emergency, you may not be able to get to your veterinarian to get prescriptions refilled when you need them.
You should always keep a current record of all your pet’s vaccinations with you in case you need them. You never know when disaster will strike, so it is important to have a pet preparedness plan at all times.
Emergency First Aid Kits for Pets
Assemble an emergency first aid kit to use for your pets in the event they get sick or injured, and you can’t get to your veterinarian immediately. Besides bandages, gauze, and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect wounds, you should keep sterile eyewash and ear wash on hand. You can ask a veterinary technician at your clinic, which are the best ones for dogs and cats.
Antibiotics for Emergencies
A veterinarian can prescribe an antibiotic ointment that’s suitable for use on dogs or cats, and it should always be in your first aid kit. It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian prescribe a pain reliever for pets. Don’t use over-the-counter pain relievers for humans since some of them are toxic and could be fatal to pets.
The Challenges of Animal Care During A Weather Emergency
An emergency veterinary practice is always fully staffed, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. If a pet has a life-threatening emergency, has become ill or gotten injured, there’s always a place to get help.
During a weather emergency, the number of animals that need care rises dramatically, and it requires a staff that’s always calm under pressure and can assess each patient quickly. A veterinary technician that specializes in emergency and critical care must triage each patient to determine how severe their condition is and treat them according to how severe the illness or injury is, not in the order in which they arrive at the hospital.
During a weather emergency, the veterinary practice must be prepared for anything. Staff who are able to get to the hospital may have double shifts to make sure all the animals in their care get the treatment they need. A veterinary technician who assists with surgery may have extended hours and an unusually high number of patients to care for.
The hospital should be equipped with generators in the event of a power loss, especially during a surgical procedure. A veterinary technician who assists during an emergency surgery will also have to monitor their patients while they’re in recovery.
Animal First Aid During Weather Emergencies
Animals can be injured as quickly as humans during a weather emergency. A veterinary technician is a person on staff that provides the initial treatment for an animal during a weather crisis. The veterinary technician must be able to assess the problem and act quickly. Many times, during a flood or hurricane, animals are left behind or get lost and must be rescued immediately.
It’s essential for the veterinary technician to treat the animal to prevent secondary problems or to keep it from going into shock, especially if hypothermia has set in.
Who Veterinary Technicians Can Partner with In the Local Community
The ASPCA is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization that deploys around the country when there’s a weather emergency to save animals. The ASPCA and local volunteers rescue animals in dire situations and transport them to temporary shelters where they receive food and medical care.
One way in which veterinary technicians can partner with the ASPCA is to volunteer for the program called Field Investigations & Response. Volunteers who are committed to saving animals can work with ASPCA staff to locate, rescue, and shelter animals that are displaced during weather emergencies.
A veterinary technician who wants to help keep pets safe during a weather emergency can educate pet parents about the Red Cross Pet Disaster Preparedness Program. The Red Cross has developed a guide primarily for dog and cat owners, so they know how to keep their pets safe in a weather emergency.
The tips recommended for pet parents by the Red Cross are:
- When it isn’t safe for humans to stay in their home during a weather emergency, it isn’t safe for pets either.
- When assembling emergency kits for the humans in your family, assemble one for each of your cats and dogs according to their needs.
- Remember that a lot of hotels don’t accept pets unless they’re service animals.
- Have an evacuation plan in place before you need it and include several places where pets are accepted. You may even enlist a few friends or family members who live out of the area to care for your pets until you can return home.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of Homeland Security and assist people and their pets following a weather crisis. FEMA works with local authorities and volunteers to search for and rescue displaced pets following weather emergencies.
Veterinary technicians can provide pet parents that are clients at their practice with the FEMA Emergency Pet Preparedness handout. They can also volunteer to help locate pets that have been left behind in weather emergencies, get them transported to temporary shelters, and provide them with medical care.
Veterinary Technicians Without Borders
Highly skilled veterinary technicians are needed more than ever to assist rescue groups during weather disasters. Veterinary Technicians Without Borders (VTWB) is a team of volunteer veterinary technicians who aid animals in animal sanctuaries and the wild during disaster relief efforts following a weather emergency.
Hurricane Harvey and VTWB
During Hurricane Harvey in the summer of 2017, VTWB volunteers worked with residents to save hundreds of animals from flood waters. Animals that were sick, injured, and scared received needed medical treatment, love, and compassion from volunteers. The veterinary technicians who volunteered to save these animals were thrilled to see them reunited with their families or find homes with new families.
Not only does VTWB save thousands of animals in emergency situations, but it also allows veterinary technicians to observe how veterinary medicine is practiced in other places around the world.
Skills and Qualities Needed for a Veterinary Technician During A Weather Crisis
Veterinary technicians are trained to provide assistance to veterinarians in emergency situations each day. However, in a weather emergency, they may have to care for hundreds of animals. Even veterinary technician who are trained in emergency and critical care can be overwhelmed during weather emergencies.
Critical Thinking Skills in Emergencies
It takes a special person to solve problems to save animals lives during emergencies; critical thinking skills are a must. The veterinary technician must delegate tasks to other team members to aid as many animals as possible.
Assessing Priorities as a Veterinary Technician
In a weather emergency, more animals will be brought to a temporary clinic or medical practice than usual. The veterinary technician must assess the condition of each animal and decide which ones need the most immediate care. One of the most critical points to remember is that during a weather crisis, effective communication among the veterinary staff is essential, so everyone knows what must be done to save animals lives.
Want to Learn More?
Did learning about how a veterinary technician can help during a weather crisis interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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