COLLEGE STATION - A unique partnership is helping ensure Texas pets are protected following disaster situations.
Next month, a unit from Fort Hood will take on the task of caring for animals following a catastrophic event. They could be deployed anywhere in the United States.
"It's a mission we're very excited to assume," said Lt. Col. Carl Shaia, commander of the 43rd Medical Detachment Veterinary Services Support. "It's certainly a noble effort and it's also necessary."
The 60-solider unit has been preparing for months, but when the soldiers wanted to put their plan into action, they called on Texas A&M’s Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) for help. Another agency already known for its first responder training, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), also joined the effort.
"It was just such a powerful idea and something that's so needed,” said Dr. Deb Zoran, Medical Operation Chief of the Veterinary Emergency Team.
Dr. Zoran and her team have been working on organizing a training exercise for the military veterinary unit since last fall.
“It's a first of its kind exercise. And it's actually a first of its kind for our veterinary emergency team to pair up with the military folks,” said Dr. Zoran.
Thursday it all came together as soldiers set up several tents and stations at TEEX’s Disaster City in College Station.
“It's an exercise where we're responding to a contamination in the environment, a scenario where there's been a series of explosions, floods and train car derailment. So our people have been tasked with decontaminating the animals that were exposed following those events,” said Lt. Col. Shaia.
“Decontamination is basically cleaning. How do you get all the contaminants off of them so they can safely go back to their families with all that material that's on them off,” said Dr. Zoran.
Throughout the day, soldiers took their patients, dogs, through the various portions of the training exercise, while members of the VET observed.
“It's been a fantastic opportunity for us to put into motion the procedures that we had previously only discussed,” said Lt. Col. Shaia.
"A&M has a proud connection to the military...so being able to work with these folks directly has been such an honor and a privilege that I honestly think we're both learning from each other,” said