Katrina: The long road to recovery - DVM
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Katrina: The long road to recovery


DVM360 MAGAZINE


All of the animals at Buccaneer Villa Veterinary Hospital, owned by Gross, were evacuated prior to the hurricane, he says. Animals at the Animal Emergency Clinic in Metairie, which is managed by Gross, were cared for by a doctor who stayed behind.

"There will be many sad stories to be told as this unfolds," Gross says. "I heard about 40 animals died when the cooling system failed in one of the rescue vehicles that collected animals from clinics and the roadside."

The home Gross owned in Mississippi was pummeled by the storm, rendering it unlivable.

"At this point I have lost my practice, my home and even my car," he says. "I went back to my house to collect some valuables before looters come."

Insurance

The big question of what insurance will cover is being asked by all afflicted practitioners.

Metairie Small Animal Hospital had prepared for the worst with numerous coverage extras, including business interruption insurance, however an inspector's initial response was the practice would not be fully covered.

"This is not what people want to hear," Mayer says. "I'm really concerned that since we're already being told by our insurance carrier that we won't be covered, that many companies will not be stepping up to the plate."


Drs. Lynn Buzhardt (left), Jon Haggard (right) and Bruce Eilts (center) take part in the relief efforts. Drs. Lynn Buzhardt (left), Jon Haggard (right) and Bruce Eilts (center) take part in the relief efforts.
In a long-term outlook, Metairie doctors are concerned with what will happen to their staff if insurance isn't going to compensate for the loss of business.

"I'm concerned that we will lose some of our workers permanently if the insurance doesn't kick in," Mayer adds. "We can't afford to pay them if there isn't comparable business, and they can't afford not to work."

At presstime veterinarians and staff were cleaning the hospital to prepare for a return to normalcy.

In other practice news: The country's big corporate practices will need some work to return to business as usual, too. Banfield reports four practices were affected by the storm: three in Louisiana and one in Mississippi. VCA Antech Inc. announced the closing of VCA Airline Hospital in Metairie, with the extent of damage unknown at presstime.

Mississippi

The impact to coastal Mississippi practices is far more sketchy.

"We're having trouble communicating with our own staff because cell phone towers are down; there are isolated areas with no electricity, and everyone is trying to help stranded people," says Ronnie White, emergency operations coordinator, Mississippi Board of Animal Health. "There are hundreds of horses that were evacuated, but hundreds more left behind. We're just putting animals in every nook and cranny in the state that we can find that is safer than where they were."

Dr. Jim Watson, Mississippi state veterinarian, says there are 3.2 million confirmed poultry deaths, while the number could span up to 5 million barring ongoing counts.

Other agricultural industries did not give estimates as to the impact the hurricane has had at presstime, however, without electricity, the dairy industry is suffering considering milking machines cannot operate without electricity, Huddleston adds.

"Support from the veterinary community, drug companies and humane agencies has been essential and provides light at the end of the tunnel," Huddleston says.

Many hotels that normally do not allow pets are now making exceptions Christiansen says.

Veterinary students from Mississippi State University are staying on campus because of flooded living conditions, Christiansen says. Classes however, are in session.


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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