UC Davis Veterinary Medicine News, Spring/Summer 1997
School Members Aid Disaster Victims
at Home and Abroad
School of Veterinary Medicine students, staff and faculty members volunteered to help with rescue efforts and care for animals affected by simultaneous disasters that occurred in early January, severe flooding in Northern California and a major oil
spill in Japan.
Northern California Floods
A group of 24 veterinary students received the 1996-97 UC Davis Community
Service Award for outstanding volunteer service to animal and human victims in
the aftermath of the New Year's flooding.
During the first weekend of January, just after the height of the deluge, a small
group of veterinary students and faculty members went into the flooded area near
Olivehurst, California, to help rescue and treat animals stranded in high water.
During the next several days, as hundreds of animals were brought in to the Placer
County Fairgrounds emergency shelter, veterinary students served in eight-hour
shifts providing care and daily medical management for large and small animal
disaster victims including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, pigs and cattle. The students
also collected blankets, food and clothing for human flood victims.
The students treated sick and injured animals around-the-clock, built kennels,
photographed animals for identification by their owners, gave tetanus vaccinations,
sutured lacerations and treated eye infections. The students provided help in
housing, feeding, grooming and exercising displaced animals as well as help in
reuniting animals with their owners. In addition, they provided owners with
information on the care of infections and wounds on their pets and livestock, hoof
care, diet and the importance of vaccination.
Japan Oil Spill
When the Russian oil tanker Nakhodka ran aground in the Sea of Japan January 2
and split apart, the resulting 962,000 gallon oil slick (one-quarter the volume of the
1989 Exxon Valdez spill) spread along the west coast of Honshu, the main island of
Scott Newman, oil spill response veterinarian with the school's Wildlife Health
Center, was invited with Harry Carter of the U.S. Geologic Survey and Dr. Roger
Helm of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to provide advice and assistance to the
Japanese government in assessing the extent of wildlife injury and to provide help
with oiled wildlife care. Dr. Newman says, "Since this was only the second large
scale spill involving wildlife in Japan, veterinarians, biologists and rehabilitators
were very interested in learning the best techniques available for oiled wildlife
The three traveled throughout the spill zone and provided assistance to the Japan
Environment Agency, the Oiled Bird Information Committee, the Wildlife Rescue
Veterinarian Association, and government and non-profit organizations including
the Wild Bird Society of Japan and the Japan Alcid Society. Dr. Newman, who
focused on rehabilitation issues, visited several temporary seabird facilities, where
the majority of birds being treated were from the Alcid family, Ancient Murrelets,
Marbled Murrelets, Japanese Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklets, along with
several other species including Red-necked Grebes, Black-Tailed Gulls, Japanese
Cormorants and Black Scoters. The Japanese Murrelet is an endangered species and
is the rarest Alcid in the world. The Streaked Shearwater, another endangered
species, may also be affected during its breeding season in Japan.
With the aid of an interpreter, Dr. Newman conducted numerous seminars and
training sessions for Japanese wildlife personnel on care, rehabilitation and release
of oiled seabirds, including demonstrations on cleaning and feeding oiled birds, and
techniques for monitoring the health of cleaned birds, procedures that are used by
participants in California's Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), which is
administered through the Wildlife Health Center. Some presentations were
videotaped, and almost all were attended by the media. Information presented by
Dr. Newman was also translated into Japanese and made available on the Internet.
Japan parliament member Ms. Akiko Domoto and the Wildlife Rescue Veterinarian
Association of Japan are interested in establishing an oiled wildlife care program
similar to the OWCN, says Dr. Newman. The three scientists helped Japanese care
personnel establish protocols for collection, handling, health assessment, cleaning,
care, rehabilitation and release of oiled wildlife, and gave recommendations for
documenting wildlife injury and implementing training programs for future oil
spill response work.
|UC Davis veterinary researcher Scott Newman holds two Ancient Murrelets that have been cleaned after being rescued from an oil spill in Japan (right).
||Seabirds housed in cardboard boxes can develop sores on their feet and breasts. Dr. Newman guided staff at the Ishikawa Wild Bird Sanctuary in creating suspended mesh flooring in the boxes to support the birds mor
e gently, in the manner of an aquatic environment (left).|