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MSU veterinarians called to Leflore County crash site

Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty and staff are providing care for working dogs as they assist with the response to the July 10 military plane crash in Leflore County. A mobile veterinary clinic is being used to provide preventative care and treat minor injuries. (Photo by Tom Thompson)

When a disaster strikes, it takes agencies and organizations of all kinds to respond.

Mississippi State University veterinarians are assisting with the federal and state disaster response to the July 10 military plane crash in Leflore County.

The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Disaster Animal Response Team was deployed under the Mississippi Board of Animal Health’s Mississippi Animal Response Team by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to Leflore County to assist with the response. CVM veterinarians and staff members are providing care to the military and federal agency working dogs that are searching for debris in a crash site that expand through several miles of mostly agricultural fields.

The team is led by Carla Huston, CVM associate professor of pathobiology and population medicine, who also is an Extension veterinarian.

“We’ve set up a mobile veterinary clinic,” Huston said. “Working dogs have been brought in from the military and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. These are highly trained dogs, so we’re providing preventative care and treating any minor injuries. Once the task is complete, we will demobilize. We are also available in case an emergency occurs during deployment of the canine teams.”

The main challenges for the dogs, Huston said, are extreme heat and reduced air circulation at the dogs’ height level. The veterinarians are monitoring between six and eight dogs for signs of heat exhaustion and other related issues. Since the disaster response team was mobilized, three veterinarians, two veterinary technicians, and two support staff members have assisted in the field.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, the American Kennel Club provided funding to enable our College of Veterinary Medicine to purchase a mobile veterinary vehicle that would be used to respond to events that threatened the well-being of animals, and dogs in particular,” said CVM Dean Kent Hoblet. “Being in the Delta this week to provide support for the hard-working service dogs is honoring our commitment to the people and dogs of Mississippi.”

The CVM Disaster Animal Response Team has aided response efforts to hurricanes, tornadoes, oil spills and other disasters. Huston said the surrounding community has been supportive of federal, state and local authorities working the crash scene.

“It’s a collaborative response,” Huston said. “Most people probably don’t realize how large a response this is.”

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