A specialist team, able to conduct technical rescues and perform in-field veterinary treatment and disaster assessment.
The Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) is a specialist team, able to conduct technical animal rescues and perform in-field veterinary treatment and disaster assessment.
VERT is voluntary group, with 12 active members plus three support members. Team members are comprised of small and large animal veterinarians, veterinary technologists, experienced animal handlers, police, an arborist and others passionate about animal welfare and technical animal rescue.
The team is based at the Massey University Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical science in Palmerston North. While the university supports VERT members with release to perform duties and for training, the team relies on funding for its response capacity and educational activities. Members volunteer their time and fund most personal equipment individually. The Massey University Foundation is a charitable trust that administers the finances of VERT and accounts for all donations/funding received.
Recognising the gap in infrastructure for the care and welfare of animals in disasters and rescues in New Zealand, VERT was formed in 2010 and was the first veterinary emergency response team in Australasia. Similar teams exist in Great Britain and the United States of America. Its first major deployment was in response to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. VERT was essential in treating the Police and Urban Search and Rescue dogs and animals that were rescued from buildings within the red zone. Additionally, VERT performed disaster analysis needs assessments (DANA) throughout the affected areas to assist with ensuring the most affected areas had veterinary capacity and animal welfare needs were met.
VERT provides technical rescue and/or emergency treatment of single animals or mass causality events such as:
o Swift water and flood rescue
o Entrapped large animals (truck/horse float accident, mud, cast)
o Height rescue (animal on cliff, cat up tree)
VERT also has the following disaster response capabilities:
o Field triage
o Re-establishing veterinary infrastructure
VERT relies on donations, grants and sponsorship to enable its full and ongoing function; for technical equipment and for training.
VERT will continue to play an integral role in animal welfare emergency management through a deployable team which can respond to small single patient response to multiple patients with various agencies. The team will grow to be a national resource and will give back to New Zealand through continuing to fulfil the above mentioned roles. The team will continue to apply for grants and attract permanent sponsorship to facilitate VERT deployment.
A specialist team, able to conduct technical rescues and perform in-field veterinary treatment and disaster assessment
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