WAN Exclusive With SoCal Veterinary Medical Association’s Executive Director Dr. Peter Weinstein About How Veterinarians Can Help During The Wildfires

Los Angeles Pierce College Equine Center

Following numerous conflicting reports regarding the current need for veterinarians to help care for horses affected by the devastating wildfires burning throughout Southern California, WAN talked exclusively to the Executive Director of the Southern California Veterinary Association (SCVMA), Dr. Peter Weinstein, for an update.

As of this morning, according to Weinstein, temporary care and shelter facilities such as the one at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley, are well staffed by a number of kind-hearted veterinarians who volunteered to help after he issued an urgent plea earlier this week to all veterinarians who are a part of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. 

Weinstein did suggest however that veterinarians wanting to help in emergency situations such as the one California is currently experiencing, should reach out to the state veterinary association or join the California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (CVMRC). Every state should have similar organizations.

CVMRC is a life-saving volunteer-based organization that provides “veterinary professionals with the training and credentials necessary to support animal health and public health,” which is especially vital to the thousands of animals that need care during and after disasters.

As noted on its website, an estimated 63% of California’s households have pets, including approximately 10 million cats, nine million dogs, and one million horses. Other pets, farm animals, and wildlife also need assistance during and after disasters like earthquakes, floods and wildfires.

Weinstein told WAN that members of the general public also wanting to help should contact local animal welfare organizations and shelters near the evacuation areas to find out where and how their assistance is most needed.

He also stressed the importance of people taking care of their own family, animals, and property first due to the unpredictable nature of fires.

A significant takeaway from WAN’s conversation with Dr. Weinstein is that anyone with horses should have a trailer prepared to evacuate at any given moment along with an established execution plan already in place ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute.

“Once the current crisis is under control there should be a learning curve of how to evacuate quickly,” said Weinstein who pointed out that it is much more difficult to evacuate with larger animals than it is with smaller ones such as dogs, cats, birds and so on. “With larger animals, an escape vehicle must be prepared in advance.”

As per Weinstein, if pets are exposed to fire or smoke inhalation, their owners should contact their local vet or nearest emergency clinic.

WAN appreciates the heroic efforts of Dr. Weinstein and veterinarians everywhere who dedicate their lives to saving the precious and equally valuable lives of animals on a daily basis, not only in times of disaster.

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