State Departments of Emergency Management prepare and respond to natural disasters by implementing the orchestrated emergency response plans, which state, federal and non-profit partners help develop over the years. These plans, that also include responses to the intentional or accidental introduction of highly pathogenic zoonotic or strictly animal diseases, are considered ever-green and updated based

As we have seen in footage covering the events following Hurricane Harvey and the unprecedented rain and flooding related thereto, it is extremely important for governments, animal-related business owners and animal owners to take all possible steps to plan for disasters that affect people and animals.

For livestock owners, that means planning to relocate herds

A “Good Samaritan” bill, S 3134, introduced in the New Jersey Senate on May 8, 2017 would “provide immunity from civil liability for veterinarians or emergency responders who assist animals at accident scene or emergency.”  Sister bill A4770 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on May 11, 2017.

The foundational documents that set forth the guidelines and plans to be used during disasters are called Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annexes that define how different federal, state and local agencies will coordinate to accomplish critical tasks.

There are 15 different federally designated ESFs.

As described by USDA, the ESF Nos. 5, 6, 8, and

There are a number of responses that have been established at the national and state level to respond to emergencies that affect animals, either intentionally—as a result of agriterrorism or bioterrorism—or coincidentally as a result of natural disasters or disease outbreaks.

Those teams include:

  1. The National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps (NAHERC) that was established

As expected, there is talk of legal action by nurse Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined in New Jersey after allegedly having a fever upon her homecoming to the U.S. during her screening upon entry at Newark airport.  Hickox claims she did not have a fever, and that her quarantine was “not scientifically or constitutionally just,”

The impending court-ordered euthanasia of Excalibur-the dog owned by the Ebola infected nurse’s aide in Spain-is not only unnecessary from an animal and public health perspective, it is a dangerous precedent that could hamper efforts to identify and stop the spread of this devastating disease.

That said, dogs and other animals may become infected with

Those of us in the emergency response community (I directed theNew JerseyDepartment of Agriculture (NJDA)’s emergency response for disasters involving animals for a decade, as the Assistant and then State Veterinarian), have long known the importance of this message.  For more than 20 years, the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association has worked with the NJDA,