Flood recovery continues for Midwest veterinarians

AVMF assistance helping those who spent or lost because of floods
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Flood rescuers brought hundreds of animals, sometimes by the busload, to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, veterinary technology-school-turned-emergency-animal shelter.

Dr. Abbie Clark said she and other veterinarians vaccinated, examined, and medicated pets taken from flooded streets and homes to the shelter.

She still has Squeaker, one of the five cats she took home from the shelter. The cats fell ill after arriving and were scheduled for euthanasia.

The other four have since been placed in other homes, she said.

"I think all of their medical problems were related to stress," Dr. Clark said.

In addition to her work at the temporary shelter, Dr. Clark spent more than $3,000 of her own money taking in animals and giving free services, such as medical care and cremation of pets, to long-term clients.

Dr. Clark, owner of Abbie's Animal Clinic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is so far among about 15 people together receiving about $23,000 in grant funds from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation following the Midwest floods this summer. The funds reimburse veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians for relief efforts and losses.

Dr. Randy Ackman teaches veterinary technician students at Kirkwood Community College, where the shelter was established. He said Dr. Clark was among hundreds of volunteers, including 68 veterinarians, who helped about 1,300 animals that came to the college during the flooding.

The shelter was open June 11-July 13, Dr. Ackman said. The pets brought to his college came from owners who didn't have a place for their pets to stay as well as from volunteers who searched flooded areas for surviving animals.

Dr. Kenneth Kozlowski, who owns Pine Knoll Veterinary Clinic in the Wisconsin Dells, is among veterinarians receiving reimbursement from the AVMF. People in the Dells have seemed less willing to spend money, whether directly because of the flooding or in response to the economy, he said.

"A disaster like this is bad any time," Dr. Kozlowski said. "But with the economic worries, it couldn't have happened at a worse time."

The flooding ruined some medical supplies and caused mild damage to Dr. Kozlowski's clinic, which primarily serves small animals.

Local authorities condemned houses, and some farm animals and pets died directly because of the flooding, Dr. Kozlowski said. Wells became contaminated and mosquitoes became a more serious issue.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far spent about $644 million in public and individual assistance because of flooding this year across the U.S., according to figures from the agency. Of that money spent, about $237 million was sent to Iowa, $142 million to Indiana, and $56 million to Missouri.

The AVMF gives relief awards of up to $2,000 for personal and professional losses or financial hardship in declared disaster areas. And the Foundation reimburses licensed veterinary technicians and veterinarians for up to $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses such as emergency animal care and shelter.

The relief and reimbursement is funded by donations to the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund from individuals and Merial's Paws to Save Pets program.

Anyone eligible for a grant needs to apply within nine months of incurring expenses for animal care or losses. For information, contact Monique Buonincontro, AVMF grants coordinator, at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6691 or at mbuonincontroatavma [dot] org (mbuonincontro[at]avma[dot]org). Or go to www.avmf.org.