College’s Response to Hurricane Irma

UF VETS took part in a multi-agency rescue of five horses stranded in floodwaters in High Springs.

The UF College of Veterinary Medicine has responded to Hurricane Irma in a variety of ways. Below is a list summarizing our most visible efforts.

  • The UF Veterinary Hospital provided continual 24/7 emergency services before, during and immediately after Hurricane Irma to pets, horses and wildlife, serving as a valuable community resource in light of closures of nearly every other veterinary specialty and emergency hospital in the state.
  • The UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service (UF VETS), our college’s disaster response and technical rescue team, deploys at the request of state and local agencies. The team has been very active in the aftermath of Irma.
  1. At the request of Alachua County officials, UF VETS traveled to and picked up 100 dog crates in Bushnell and delivered them to Alachua County Animal Services’ operations to support pet-friendly shelters in the area.  In addition, the UF VETS team:
  2. Investigated complaints of abandoned horses at Florida Horse Park in Ocala and provided an assessment of the situation.
  3. Provided assessments in the Kissimmee area and conducting fact-finding missions, determining what needs exist and assisting in helping to meet those needs, working with county and state agencies.
  4. Working with the National Guard, Marion County Sheriff Mounted Unit, Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and others, UF VETS conducted a multi-day, ultimately successful rescue of five horses stranded in floodwater.
  5. Spent several days in the Florida Keys, where they provided patient care and situational assessments relating to animals and veterinary practices and working with the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and others to provide assistance as needed.

More photos and updates are available on the UF VETS Facebook page.

  • The UF Shelter Medicine team has helped support the Alachua County Humane Society’s efforts to move animals out of shelters in harm’s way. Additionally, the shelter medicine team and associated volunteers have redistributed vaccines and flea and tick preventive medication for 800 animals to the ACHS and have assisted in arranging relocation transports to Chicago, Atlanta and South Carolina. The shelter group worked through difficult communications networks to contact each of Florida’s 155 animal shelters to assure that they were connected with their county’s emergency operations centers and received the help that they needed.
  • The UF Aquatic Animal Health team responded to separate calls to rescue several displaced manatees found in different bodies of water. A lone manatee was rescued from a canal in Bayport, and several from a pond in Melbourne. The rescues took place in collaboration with agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Sea World, the Brevard County Zoo and local law enforcement.