Veterinarians called on to help tornadoes' newest victims

Veterinarians called on to help tornadoes' newest victims

Apr 28, 2011
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Severe storms yesterday spawned dozens of tornadoes killing more than 248 people in six states. The severe weather closed veterinary practices in the hardest hit areas like Tuscaloosa, and left some pet owners turning to the veterinary practices left open for help.

Dr. Paul Bronold, owner of Canant Veterinary Hospital in Tuscaloosa, says his practice was untouched by a mile-wide tornado that touched down yesterday. It was a different story just down the road.

"You can see where it came through; the damage is unbelievable," Bronold tells DVM Newsmagazine. A pile of five mutilated cars and huge steel structures sitting in the middle of the highway were some of the sights he passed on his way in to work this morning.

Tuscaloosa is believed to be the hardest hit city, and yesterday’s tornadoes claimed 162 lives in the state, according to government estimates.

At Bronold's practice, animals, staff and the building all fared well, but some clients haven’t been so lucky.

"We’re taking in pets for people who don’t know what they’re going to do yet," says Bronold, adding a lot of people have lost their homes and his hospital’s boarding kennels are filling up.

He heard from some colleagues at neighboring veterinary hospitals, but not all.

There was no answer at four of the other Tuscaloosa veterinary hospitals DVM Newsmagazine editors tried to contact today. At McNeff Veterinary Hospital, an answering service picked up after a 20-minute wait. The attendant says the practice is still standing, but he was unaware of any severe damage. The practice, however, is expected to be without power for at least the next four days.

In Montgomery, the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association reports officials have not heard much from its membership yet either. Veterinary association officials expect calls as recovery efforts sweep into action. The association did not suffer any damage to its facility.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is tracking severe storms from the South near the Gulf of Mexico up through the Northeast. The storms range from wind and hail reports to tornadoes. So far, 164 tornadoes have been confirmed as a result of this weather system.

Yesterday’s storms fueled more severe flooding in Southeast Missouri. In fact, the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) dispatched a response team to help care for growing numbers of displaced pets. More than 40 animals had been recovered and taken to the Caruthersville Humane Society for care, ASPCA reports.