With a 12-strong group consisting of faculty veterinarians, technical staff and students, the University of Florida Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service team deployed to Fort Myers, Florida on October 3, 2022, in response to Hurricane Ian. The UF VETS team deployed at the request of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ agricultural response team.
The group was originally set to be based at Lee County Domestic Animal Services. However, the county asked them to shift location to the Terry Park Sports Complex, an area deemed to be of greater need for services. The UF VETS team is performing health assessments and triaging animals in need of care. The bunk trailer housing team members was provided to the college through a grant from PetSmart Charities and the Banfield Foundation.
We will provide updates as we receive them from team leaders to keep the public informed as to our work there. Our updates and additional photos are also available on our college Facebook page.
At the bottom of this page, we will also include links to media coverage our efforts have received. Anyone who wishes to contribute to UF VETS’ current and future efforts can do so at this link: at https://bit.ly/3e103f3.
Day 5-6: October 8-9, 2022
The UF VETS team saw 98 more patients over the weekend with help from Florida Veterinary Medical Association volunteers and Dr. Gareth Buckley, chief medical officer for the UF Veterinary Hospitals, who drove down with additional supplies and two UF veterinary technicians. The total number of patients seen is now 292.
Day 4: October 7, 2022
The team saw 56 cases today, bringing the total number of cases seen to 194. A few patient updates: Jojo the cat spent her final day in treatment with the team and a dog named Kiwi was treated for bite wounds from an alligator encountered after the storm. A cat named Maverick, which went missing the night before the storm and returned home today, received supportive therapy from the team and was sent back home with his family to recover.
Day 3: October 6, 2022
Forty-one patients were seen today, including a rabbit and a guinea pig! This brings the total of animals seen so far to 138. Our team reports receiving great support from local volunteer veterinarians and technicians, as well as several others from Pinellas and Polk counties volunteering through Florida Vet Corps.
Day 2: October 5, 2022
The UF VETS team saw 61 patients, including many found kittens that people took in after the storm and are either adopting or working to find homes for, including one man who took in two separate litters and a young cat.
“He has already found homes for half of them, and despite his own losses, he is working to help these cats find a soft landing after the storm,” said Brandi Phillips, the team’s technical rescue branch director.
Day 1: October 4, 2022
The UF VETS team saw 36 patients, many of which have dermatological or gastrointestinal issues related to or exacerbated by the storm or stress associated with the storm and its aftereffects. There were some trauma patients as well.