The UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service (UF VETS) team was founded following several ad hoc missions assigned to the veterinary college during the 2004 hurricane season. UF VETS is composed of volunteer veterinarians, staff, and veterinary students who provide disaster response, animal technical rescue, and animal technical rescue training. The team has assisted in hurricanes, hoarding cases, disease outbreaks, oil spills, and technical rescues involving a variety of species and emergencies.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is a member of the Florida State Agricultural Response Team (SART). As a “quick strike” resource, the college has been tasked to assist the state in response to animal and agricultural disasters whenever a state of emergency has been declared by the state or federal government. The team is also deployable to states as far away as Texas and Virginia through EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact). Additionally, the team provides animal technical rescue response for emergencies within a 2-hour radius of the College.
Where veterinary care is needed because community resources are overwhelmed (as in cases of natural disasters, hoarding cases, etc.)
Skilled team members are trained in a variety of technical rescue disciplines including: animal technical rescue, human rope rescue, confined space rescue, and swift-water rescue. They are also trained to operate using the Incident Command System.
UF VETS offers a variety of training opportunities to better prepare first responders and animal owners for technical rescue emergencies.
The VETS team equipment and training has been funded primarily through grants and donations
What We Do
In partnership with the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS), the College created the UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service (VETS) in order to meet the key objectives of:
- Providing a quick assessment of the veterinary infrastructure.
- Assisting operational practices with logistical support and mutual aid.
- Establishing a self-contained veterinary care triage and aid station.
- Providing advanced technical rescue for large and small animals.
- Providing training in technical rescues and building local capacity in preparation for disasters.
How We Deploy
The UF VETS Disaster Response Team deploys when activated by the State of Florida through FDACS and SART under Emergency Support Function 17 Animal Protection. Missions are assigned based on needs identified by county emergency management departments and assessments conducted by state officials.
The UF VETS Animal Technical Rescue Team responds when activated by emergency service providers within a 2-hour radius of the College. The team is intended to support local fire rescue and/or law enforcement agencies governing the scene.
Lawrence Garcia, DVM
Animal Technical Rescue Branch Director