Ooltewah veterinarian helps animals after Superstorm Sandy
By Nick Austin, Meteorologist / Reporter - bio | email
OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB-TV) -- After Hurricane Sandy barreled up the east coast, relief for families and homeowners was deployed almost immediately. But what about the pets?
A local veterinarian rose to the occasion to help out the injured animals.
When the feds called on veterinarian John Mullins, owner of the Animal Care Center of Ooltewah, to head north he didn't hesitate to leave his business behind.
"When local resources are overcome and they have come to the end of what they're able to do, or they're tired which is what happened in our case, they'll as for some assistance," explained Mullins.
While some care centers in New York City needed a break, others were simply washed away by the storm.
"The clinics in our area were destroyed," says Mullins. "They lost all their records. There was water standing eight feet tall in most of them."
Working alongside other members of the National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT), Mullins was among a special breed of people working seven days a week to help four-legged family members regain their health.
"A lot of skin issues from animals caught in flood waters. The flood waters were contaminated," said Mullins.
Dust in the air caused eye and respiratory problems for some pets, causing what Mullins described as the "Sandy Sniffles" for both pets and vets alike. Animals received daily physicals as well as food and litter.
The clinic, nicknamed "The Pooch Mobile", was sort of like a M*A*S*H" unit for pets. It moved from place to place, in Mullins' case helping in Rockaway and Coney Island. In the two weeks Mullins spent there he helped treat 117 furry friends.
Veterinary technician Renee Blecher has been working for Mullins for six months. She and the rest of the Ooltewah staff are very proud of their boss.
"It's just a great opportunity for him. Do we wish we could go? Sure! But we had to stay home and take care of business here," said Blecher with a smile.
Mullins says he would he would battle cold weather and 12-hour work days all over again next time disaster strikes, giving people peace of mind their pets will be okay.
"I would definitely do it again. Definitely!" exclaimed Mullins.
This is not his first deployment. Mullins, a veterinarian for 32 years, helped animals after hurricanes Charley in 2004 and Katrina in 2005. The NVRT has only around 200 members nationwide.