Wildfires are a serious and expanding threat in western North America, and wildfire encroachment on human populations leads to widespread evacuation and emergency housing operations for residents and their companion animals and livestock. Veterinarians are frequently part of wildfire response efforts and are called upon to assist in rescue, evacuation, and emergency housing operations as well as to provide medical care for evacuated animals. Although veterinarians are likely familiar with the principles of transporting and housing terrestrial animals, emergency response for aquatic companion animals presents unique logistic challenges. Veterinarians familiar with aquatic animal evacuation, housing, and care prior to a wildfire response can extend the scope of disaster recovery. This report offers general guidance for rescuing, evacuating, housing, and caring for aquatic animals in the wake of a wildfire.
To document injuries and illnesses incurred by search-and-recovery (S&R) dogs deployed to northern California in response to the Camp Fire wildfire of November 2018 and identify fire scene–specific hazards.
30 human remains detection–certified S&R dogs deployed to the Camp Fire scene.
Handlers of the S&R dogs completed a survey after deployment. Data on illnesses and injuries incurred by the dogs during deployment were summarized, incidence rates were calculated, and fire scene hazards were identified.
Dogs were deployed for 161 days in total, representing 121 operational search shifts that totalled 931 hours. Injuries and illnesses (ie, medical issues) were reported for 20 (67%) dogs. Wounds (lacerations and abrasions) were the most common injury, occurring in 13 (43%) dogs for an incidence rate of 34.4 wounds/1,000 h worked. The most common illness-related issues were weight loss and lethargy or fatigue, each reported for 3 (10%) dogs for an incidence rate of 3.2 events/1,000 h worked. Total incidence rate for all medical issue events was 67.7 events/1,000 h worked. Specific to the Camp Fire scene were respiratory hazards of carcinogenic woodland smoke, aerosolized dry ash, and poison oak fumes; and contact hazards of burning ground or roots, unstable sewer covers, prescription medications, unexploded ammunition, congealed vehicle battery acid, and antifreeze, all hidden under layers of ash.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Lacerations, abrasions, weight loss, and lethargy or fatigue were common among the S&R dogs, and ash covering fire scene–specific hazards likely contributed. In addition to safety concerns common to all team personnel, hazards specific to S&R dogs in a postfire environment should be emphasized during hazmat and safety briefings, especially to handlers, search team managers, and medical personnel.
Objective—To establish types and rates of injuries and illnesses among search-and-recovery and search-and-rescue dogs deployed to Oso, Wash, following the March 22, 2014, State Route 530 landslide.
Design—Medical records review and cross-sectional survey.
Animals—25 Federal Emergency Management Agency–certified search dogs.
Procedures—On-site medical records and postdeployment laboratory test results were reviewed and an electronic survey was distributed to handlers within 8 days after demobilization.
Results—Dogs worked a total of 244 search shifts totaling 2,015 hours. Injuries and illnesses were reported in 21 (84%) dogs. Wounds (abrasions, pad wear, paw pad splits, and lacerations) were the most common injury, with an incidence rate of 28.3 wounds/1,000 hours worked. Dehydration was the most common illness, with an incidence rate of 10.4 cases of dehydration/1,000 hours worked. Total incidence rate for all health events was 66.5 events/1,000 hours worked. Two search dogs were removed from search operations for 2 days because of health issues. All others continued search operations while receiving treatment for their medical issues. All health issues were resolved during the deployment or within 2 weeks after demobilization.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results revealed that search dogs deployed to the Oso, Wash, landslide incurred injuries and illnesses similar to those reported following other disasters (dehydration, wounding, vomiting, and diarrhea) but also incurred medical issues not previously documented (acute caudal myopathy, cutaneous mass ruptures, and fever). The reported medical issues were minor; however, prompt veterinary care helped prevent them from developing into more serious conditions.
Objective—To establish types and rates of injuries and illnesses among urban search-and-rescue (USAR) dogs deployed to Haiti following the January 12, 2010, earthquake.
Animals—23 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) USAR dogs deployed to Haiti.
Procedures—An online survey was distributed to the handlers of all FEMA USAR dogs deployed to Haiti in response to the January 12, 2010, earthquake.
Results—Of 33 handlers with 37 dogs that deployed, 19 (58%) handlers completed the survey, providing information on 23 (62%) dogs. Injuries and illnesses were reported in 10 of the 23 (43%) dogs, 8 of which had multiple issues. Dogs worked a total of 250 days and 1,785 hours. Dehydration and wounding were the most common disorders, with incidences of 3.9 and 3.4 events/1,000 h worked, respectively. Other disorders included ocular discharge and appetite decrease (incidence of each, 1.1 events/1,000 h worked) and weight loss, urination changes, skin infection, ear infection, oral abscess, and nonspecific illness (incidence of each, 0.56 events/1,000 h worked). Overall, there were 12.6 events/1,000 h worked. All health issues were minor and resolved during the deployment or within 2 weeks after demobilization.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that many of the USAR dogs deployed to Haiti developed acute injuries and illnesses. However, despite the high heat index, long hours worked, and dusty conditions, most injuries and illnesses were minor and all had resolved within 14 days. When logistic supplies for USAR teams are limited, minimal basic medical needs to treat common injuries should be a priority.
Objective—To determine deployment logistics of New York Police Department (NYPD) working dogs that assisted in relief efforts at the World Trade Center (WTC) site following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack; establish types and rates of related acute injuries and illnesses; identify environmental toxin exposures; and determine long-term (ie, 5-year) health effects of deployment.
Design—Prospective cohort study.
Animals—27 working dogs.
Procedures—Deployment logistics for the period from September 11, 2001, through May 30, 2002, were determined, and acute health disorders were identified by means of physical examination; a questionnaire; interviews with dog handlers; and toxicologic (blood and hair samples), clinicopathologic, microbiologic (nasal swab specimens submitted for Bacillus anthracis culture), and radiographic methods. Long-term health surveillance ended September 21, 2006.
Results—Dogs worked a total of 1,428 days (15,148 hours) at the site. Seventeen of the 27 (62.9%) dogs had health disorders during the first week. Specific conditions included fatigue (incidence rate [events/1,000 active deployment hours], 13.1), conjunctival irritation (13.1), respiratory tract problems (12.4), decreased appetite (10.8), dehydration (10), and cuts (9.3). Only minor hematologic and serum biochemical abnormalities were identified. Bacterial culture of nasal swab specimens did not yield B anthracis. Only mild and infrequent health conditions were identified during the 5-year follow-up period. None of the dogs were identified as having chronic respiratory tract disease. Six dogs died of various causes.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that acute injuries and illnesses were common among NYPD working dogs deployed to the WTC disaster site, but that longterm health complications were minimal.
Objective—To determine seroprevalence of dirofilariasis in dogs and seroprevalences of dirofilariasis, FeLV infection, and FIV infection in cats exported from the Gulf Coast region following the 2005 hurricanes.
Animals—1,958 dogs and 1,289 cats exported from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas between August 20 and December 31, 2005.
Procedures—141 animal welfare groups in 37 states and Alberta, Canada, reported results of serologic testing. Risk factors for infection, including age, sex, neuter status, breed, and state of rescue, were examined by means of univariate and multivariate logistic regression.
Results—Seroprevalence of dirofilariasis in dogs was 48.8%. Sexually intact dogs were 1.6 times as likely to have dirofilariasis as were neutered dogs, dogs in the ancient breed group were 2.2 times as likely and dogs in the guarding breed group were 1.7 times as likely to have dirofilariasis as were dogs in the herding breed group, and dogs from Mississippi were significantly less likely to have dirofilariasis than were dogs from Texas. Seroprevalences of dirofilariasis, FeLV infection, and FIV infection in cats were 4.0%, 2.6%, and 3.6%, respectively. Seroprevalence of FIV infection was significantly higher in adult cats than in juveniles and in males than in females.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that dogs and cats exported from the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricane disaster area had disease rates similar to those for animals in the region prior to the hurricanes.