Veterinary emergency-response team ready to act

A team of vets ready to respond to the needs of animals in natural disasters and disease outbreaks across Australia has been assembled by Vets Beyond Borders.

AVERT (the Australian Veterinary Emergency Response Team) is a nationally coordinated database of volunteer vets and vet nurses on stand-by to care for animals of all kinds—farm animals, pets, wildlife—in times of crisis.

In natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts or cyclones, as well as emergency disease outbreaks of, for example, the Hendra virus, AVERT members can be called on anywhere in Australia to manage, evacuate, treat and/or humanely euthanase animals.

Under AVERT, vets will be deployed to assist emergency response officials once state or national government disaster plans are activated.

Currently more than 190 veterinarians and vet nurses have registered their interest in volunteering for the AVERT program which was officially launched at the Australian Veterinary Association conference in Adelaide in May.

Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) chief executive Maryann Dalton said the impetus for AVERT came from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

“Because of the enormity and severity of those fires, emergency services personnel and veterinary support teams were stretched to extremes. Vets were trying to assist but the structure did not cope well with the sheer number of people and animals needing assistance,” she said.

“The purpose of the AVERT program is to provide additional support for local authorities and current vet teams in times of need.”

VBB is being proactive, making sure that AVERT volunteers are ready—on call to be deployed quickly to assist in future emergencies.

To register your interest, please email avert@vetsbeyondborders.org.

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