UC Davis veterinarians work to rescue animals burned by wildfires

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — The impact of California’s wildfires is not limited to human victims.

The University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has emergency crews in the field to treat animals badly burned by the fires. 

The school’s Veterinary Emergency Response Team was put on standby on Friday and was deployed through the weekend assisting animal shelters in the field and at local animal control facilities.

They are prepared to aid any species.

“Avian exotics, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs,” team coordinator Dr. Lais Costa told FOX40. “For horses, burrows, mules.”

The veterinarians use telemedicine techniques to cover more ground.

Animals with the worst cases are brought to the teaching hospital on campus.

Several horses and alpacas are the latest patients.

“They have severe burns or severe smoke inhalation or a combination of both,” Costa explained.

Like humans, the greatest threat with burn injuries is infection and animals can die even after the burns are treated.

Oxygen is key for those animals whose lungs have been damaged by too much smoke.

The staff here has learned a lot about treatment from previous wildfires, but Costa said this time the fires are too close to home.

“Colleagues of ours, people, coworkers that have lost their property or their animals,” Costa said.

Some of Costa’s colleagues remain on duty despite their losses.

“Sometimes it’s easier for people to come to work and give it back rather than sit at home,” Costa explained.

Costa said the dedication to the work inspires the students at the teaching hospital, which is one positive during the emergency.

“The first priority is to care for the animals,” Costa said. “The second one is to inspire this new generation of veterinarians to continue this work.”

The hospital has a search and rescue team which is finding more victims every day.

The Veterinary Emergency Response Team and UC Davis is funded through donations.  

To learn more about the team’s work, tap or click here.

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