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USDA Provides Animal Assistance in Wake of Hurricane Harvey
USAgNet - 08/29/2017

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is providing emergency assistance in caring for animals in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. APHIS is working to aid producers and positioning staff in key areas in Texas and Louisiana where flooding may cause further damage. In addition, APHIS is helping to meet the emergency needs of pets and their owners, as inspectors are coordinating closely with zoos, breeders, and other licensed facilities in the region to ensure the safety of animals in their care.

"APHIS has a long history of providing emergency support in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters to help producers as well as members of the public and their pets," said Kevin Shea, acting under secretary for USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs. "While we always hope our services will not be needed, we have a trained cadre of first responders who stand ready to support our partners on the ground and assist local communities in times of crisis."

On the livestock front, APHIS veterinarians are working alongside the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to conduct on-site assessments to document the needs of producers whose ranches were in the path of the storm. All needs assessments are being shared directly with the joint State-Federal Emergency Operations Center for tasking in order to provide prompt assistance. Information about protecting household pets and service animals can be found on APHIS' Animal Care Emergency Programs webpage.

Because rain is expected to continue in the region for the next several days, APHIS has additional staff on stand-by to provide support should the situation escalate and affect more livestock operations. In addition to man power, APHIS has boats and aircraft that are fueled and ready to assist not only with evacuations of people and their pets but also to help deliver food and other supplies to stranded livestock to ensure their welfare until flood waters recede. Should it be necessary in the coming days, APHIS has the expertise to assist with carcass removal and disposal as well.

APHIS and TAHC also have a joint cattle fever tick eradication program in south Texas with the quarantine area extending more than 500 miles from Del Rio to the Gulf of Mexico. While anticipated rain and flooding have not yet occurred in this region, APHIS is proactively assisting producers by conducting inspections and issuing permits to allow for the relocation of their livestock to safer grounds should it be necessary in the days ahead. In the absence of significant rainfall, APHIS plans to resume normal operations to prevent the spread of the fever tick outside the quarantine zone.

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