Disaster Aid for Veterinarians

Disaster Relief for Veterinarians 

2017 Hurricane and Wildfire Relief

Animals and many of our veterinary colleagues have felt Mother Nature’s fury as hurricane season takes its toll on coastal communities and wildfires scorch extensive swaths of the western United States. For those affected by these disasters, it will be a long road back to normalcy.

The AVMA is committed to bringing the veterinary profession together to assist colleagues in need, and we have been heartened to see the national response to these natural disasters. AVMA members and partners across the profession reached out to the Association asking how to assist the victims, and a broad range of organizations and partners in the animal health industry offered aid to help those in need.

The AVMA helps disseminate information within the veterinary community and among animal lovers and advocates to ensure an immediate and helpful response.

  • The AVMA is in constant contact with federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to assist in getting information to the right people when needed.
  • We work with state and local veterinary medical associations and veterinary schools in the affected areas to provide information, guidance and assistance as needed.
  • As a member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC), we participate in conference calls as needed to help plan and coordinate animal-related response.
  • Our charitable arm, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), provides disaster reimbursement grants to AVMA member veterinarians who deliver emergency veterinary medical care and temporary boarding to animal victims of disasters. The AVMA donated $100,000 to bolster this fund in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
  • AVMA PLIT representatives reached out to veterinary practices in advance of the storms to provide early guidance on how to deal with potential damages and claims. PLIT's carriers began receiving claims even before the rains from Harvey had ended, and PLIT officials also provided insured customers with resources to help assess damages.

Resources for affected veterinarians


Disaster Reimbursement Grants:

Personal Well-being:

Business Relocation:

Assistance for Affected Animals and Clients:

If you want to help

Despite the natural desire to volunteer or send in-kind donations to the area, relief officials on the ground discourage most in-kind donations and will turn away any would-be volunteers who are not already part of a team that is trained and credentialed. There are a few instances in which specific donations or volunteer help is requested, and these are detailed in the "Situation updates from emergency officials" section below. Self-deploying volunteers can actually complicate and add to the work of local emergency officials; please do not take it upon yourself to enter a disaster-stricken area unless you are part of an organized response team with authorized access.

Emergency officials say the best way to help is to donate to reputable charities that will funnel the right aid to the people who need it. The AVMA donated $100,000 to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Disaster Reimbursement Grants program to help veterinarians provide services to affected animals, and we encourage you to join us in that effort.

You can support the many veterinarians working to help communities inundated by Harvey by donating to the AVMF using the AVMF Code “Disaster Relief.” The CMVPR is raising money for veterinarians who suffered losses or have been housing displaced animals. Puerto Rico's government is providing additional donation information

Future volunteer work is possible

Anyone interested in volunteering their time to aid general recovery efforts should register with a National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster and await word on how and where their efforts can help. As the situation allows volunteers to safely assist, individual volunteers will be connected with local responding organizations. It’s important to note, though, that most of this volunteer work will be non-veterinary.

To facilitate support of future incidents, veterinarians may want to consider joining and training with a veterinary medical emergency response team, such as a state veterinary medical reserve corps or local medical reserve corps program. For information, see https://mrc.hhs.gov.

Planning and preparing for disasters

For all who are not in the direct path of these disasters, the current situation is a stark reminder of the importance of advance planning and preparation. Please take time to make an emergency plan for your home and business, and review your existing plan if you have one.

Situation updates from emergency officials


  • Animal response organizations continue their efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Small animals from those islands continue to be moved to a shelter in New Jersey as needed.
  • AVMA has been coordinating with many other organizations to get desperately needed animal feed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Efforts are underway to try to assist the dairy industry in Puerto Rico by keeping facilities operating so they can provide milk products for the island. All facilities involved are currently running on generators.​
  • AVMA and Puerto Rico VMA board member Dr. Jose Arce is working to get reports from the nearly 300 veterinarians living and working in Puerto Rico as to their status. These veterinarians are reaching out to help vaccinate and provide medical care for animals throughout the island despite many of them having lost their own practice facilities.
  • Florida has clarified its import requirements for animals fleeing the hurricanes, as follows:
    • Pet dogs, cats and birds fleeing Puerto Rico with their owners are exempt from standard animal import requirements in Florida, including the requirement of a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and rabies vaccination.
    • All rescue dogs and cats imported from Puerto Rico by registered Florida non-profit organizations also are exempt from the standard import requirements.
    • The exemptions do NOT include other species, nor do they apply to animals fleeing the U.S. Virgin Islands.