Wildfires: Veterinary volunteers urgently sought in Arizona

Pharmaceuticals, supplies needed

June 21, 2011 (published)
By Phyllis DeGioia

New Frontier Animal Medical Center in Sierra Vista, Ariz., urgently needs help from veterinary personnel as the area deals with the biggest wildfires in the state's history.

The veterinary hospital has set up a wildfire triage center for large and small animals. As of this morning, the practice is caring for 350 animals within its main building and three annexes. Additional animals are being sheltered at a local middle school and high school. An influx of animals is expected today.

Hospital administrator Kathryn Honda — herself an evacuee — told the VIN News Service that help from volunteer veterinarians, technicians, technician's assistants, customer service representatives and kennel attendants immediately is needed to assist with intakes and care for sick and healthy animals. They need someone to field telephone calls and help with the animal database they've created. 

Veterinarians must have a license to practice in Arizona in order to provide medical care to animals.    

Medications, supplies, and pet food are also in demand, and any donations of those materials would be appreciated.

To discuss volunteer needs and pharmaceutical donations, call Jan Woods, hospital administrator of the Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, at (520) 795-9955.

One veterinarian who was not identified has been allowed in to previously off-limits areas to rescue animals. Last night the Cochise County Sheriff's Office indicated that nearby evacuation areas are being released back to pre-evacuation status based on the condition that residents are prepared to re-evacuate their homes at a moment's notice. Residents are arriving home, so it's likely that the number of animals in need of help will increase.

"Yesterday we had fewer pets come in, but depending on what happens with the rescue mission, more people and pets will be coming in," Honda said. "Yesterday they opened up two roads for people to start going back, and the winds are supposed to hold. My hope is that it's the beginning of the end."

New Frontier Animal Medical Center is at 2045 Paseo San Luis in Sierra Vista. The telephone number is (520) 459-0433. No nearby hotel rooms are available.

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.