Tornado update: One veterinary practice destroyed; Missouri veterinarians stand ready to help

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May 24, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Joplin, Mo. -- With one veterinary practice already destroyed and more storms threatening, rescue workers are pouring into Joplin to offer aid to storm victims and their pets.

As previously reported by DVM Newsmagazine, the Humane Society of Missouri deployed a 15-person animal disaster response team to Joplin yesterday. The Missouri Volunteer Veterinary Corps remains ready to deploy. The group, assembled by the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), is made up of about 350 volunteers from around the state, explains MVMA Executive Director Richard Antweiler. Once the humane society established its shelter and identifies additional needs, MVMA will send the necessary help. Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Ralph Richardson says the school is sending supplies to Joplin via a registered nurse, and the University of Missouri also is collecting supplies.

Veterinary services are at a premium in Joplin at the moment after the tornado cut a nearly mile-wide path through the center of the city. Most practices along the tornado’s path could not be reached in the days after the storm, with at least one clinic, Parkview Animal Hospital, destroyed. Parkview was located about a half-mile from St. John’s Regional Medical Center, the human hospital evacuated after a direct hit from the twister.

Dr. Jim Christman, a Joplin native who opened the practice 25 years ago, is safe, according to updates on a Facebook page created to track tornado recovery efforts. The animals being boarded at the clinic are also safe, and have been moved to an emergency shelter, according to the practice's telephone message. Several other practices in the tornado’s path are still standing, but are without power and unable to open, Dr. Donald Loden, owner of Cornerstone Animal Hospital, tells DVM Newsmagazine.

“The town is shut down,” says Loden, adding animal rescue work will be done in due time, but there are other concerns right now. “We’re trying to deal with a human life issue here; it’s about trying to save people’s lives.”

A shelter has been set up with available veterinary care by the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency at its emergency location in the recreation center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.