Background: Since Hurricane Katrina, the importance of veterinary disaster response has become recognized. The author’s institution founded its Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) in 2009. It is the largest veterinary disaster response team in the country; it is also a rotation for fourth-year veterinary students. In October 2018, after receiving a call for new VET members, the library committed an interested staff member to explore information support opportunities for the teams.
Description: The library staff member went to trainings and conferences with the team and assisted with several deployments. The staff member identified several library and information opportunities and unasked reference questions. Animal disaster information and response resources exist from a diverse group of organizations, including FEMA, Red Cross, National Library of Medicine, and ASPCA. Most of these resources focus on mitigation and preparation rather than response. The pool of veterinary literature is smaller than with human medicine; specialties in veterinary medicine (ophthalmology, dentistry, etc.) use human literature to develop evidence-based practices. Because veterinary disaster response is interdisciplinary, the literature is spread, even hidden, in other areas of literature, like engineering.
Conclusion: Librarians have roles to play in support of veterinary disaster response: Include acceptable levels of animal contamination for chemical and radiological responses, and zoonotic infectious diseases in tools like WISER, where responders already look for information. Provide scholarly communication support to those writing about veterinary disaster response. Collect literature relevant to veterinary disaster response needs in a central location and better index them. Seek opportunities to become involved in information management during disasters in support of first responders, whether it’s helping manage patient records or incoming information about the disaster.