When a disaster strikes, patients usually need to be treated right there at the scene. The same goes for animals, but, until now, Nashville emergency crews never had a good way to take care of injured cats and dogs at the scene of an emergency.
Now, new equipment has rolled in to enable pet triage.
"We'll be able to help in a disaster, any disaster, where we have to pick up a large amount of animals," said Dr. Dotty Diveley, with Metro Animal Care and Control.
In the past, animal control had to drive each and every animal by car or truck to the animal hospital before they could treat it. Sometimes, that meant dozens of trips.
"We actually got animals for [Hurricane] Katrina, and there was a limit on how many we could pick up at one time," Diveley said.
The new $50,000 mobile command center arrived in Nashville on Wednesday and was purchased with a federal emergency preparedness grant through the Metro Public Health Department.
"We could take the animals into custody until the owners could come get them," said Billy Biggs, with Metro Animal Care and Control.
It's capable of holding dozens of animals at a time, and veterinarians can start treating the animals immediately.
The trailer will mainly be used for domesticated animals like dogs and cats, but in some situations it could accommodate farm animals and even reptiles.
Aside from weather emergencies, it will also be used in cases of animal hoarding or dog and cockfighting cases.
"It's got a place where you can examine them, and we've got places on board with gauze dressing wrap," Biggs said.
The Disaster Animal Response Team, or DART, will ride along in the triage center. That means faster treatment, possibly less cost and hopefully lives of more animals saved.
"We've been wanting a trailer like this forever and we finally got one," Biggs said.
The DART mobile triage center will be used for the first time next weekend to teach animal disaster preparedness unless it's needed sooner.
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