Emergency veterinary clinics and disaster response teams were preparing for Hurricane Sandy today as the storm headed toward the Northeastern United States.
The hurricane may reach southern New Jersey this evening and is forecast to bring 90-mph winds and flooding to the Northeast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Emergency clinics expect a long week as many private practice veterinarians close their offices. The 24/7 Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center of Turnersville, N.J., is the only clinic in the area to stay open, said human resources director Mary Ann Leone.
“We had a busy weekend, but the calls weren’t necessarily related to the storm,” Leone said. “Since all the primary vets have closed, we’re the only clinic that’s seeing animals.”
The three BluePearl Veterinary clinics in New York City also are open.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams are waiting to deploy in states that require additional help. The teams, funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, will assist with treatment and in establishing bases of operation for veterinary triage and medical care, said Cheryl Eia, DVM, MPH, JD, coordinator of emergency preparedness and response for the AVMA.
Meanwhile, the American Humane Association deployed its Red Star Rescue Rig, an 82-foot-long truck that, along with a convoy of chase vehicles, carries rescue boats, a hoist, food and medical supplies, snap-together kennels and other items designed to help animals during a disaster.
The North Shore Animal League of Port Washington, N.Y., set up mobile clinics at Nassau Community College in Uniondale, N.Y., to take in pets from people staying in evacuation shelters where animals are not allowed. The organization accepted 27 cats and nine dogs from a nearby shelter, Bobby and the Strays of Freeport, N.Y.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation urged people to ensure the safety of their pets by taking these steps:
• Be sure all pets have a collar and tag or are identifiable through an up-to-date microchip or tattoo.
• Have on hand an ample supply of food, bottled water and any medications.
• Keep a photo of the pet and a physical description in case it becomes lost.
The foundation also recommended that pet owners who evacuate bring their pets and have the following:
• A leash, collar or harness for each pet.
• A collapsible cage that includes bedding and owner identification.
• A cat litter pan and scoop.
• Food, water, medications and feeding bowls.
• Veterinary records.
• A first aid kit.
• A can opener.
Other hurricane preparedness and response materials, including brochures, are available on the AVMA website.