USDA accredited veterinarians . . . Florida needs you

Hurricane flood wit trapped dogs

Hurricane Ian’s harsh lesson for veterinarians

Last year’s Hurricane Ian taught us a lot about veterinarians and our readiness to help during an emergency.

Hundreds of veterinarians across the state stepped up to volunteer at animal shelters, pet-friendly shelters for displaced families, and roadside field clinics providing medical care for over a thousand feline and canine storm victims.

Plans went into motion to evacuate pets trapped in coastal animal shelters threatened by the approaching storm. An evacuation plane costing $35,000 waited on the runway. Shelters up north made space to take in these storm evacuees.

But then . . . the shelters couldn’t find enough USDA-accredited veterinarians on short notice to issue hundreds of health certificates required to board the plane. There was no emergency call list for help. The window to fill the pre-dawn departure grew shorter by the hour until the plane was forced to depart less than half full, leaving cats, dogs, and shelter staff behind to ride out the Category 4 hurricane in place.

Hurricane season 2023 officially started June 1 and we’ll be ready. We’re building a list of accredited veterinarians who’d like to help animal shelters if an emergency requiring health certificates strikes.

Is this for you? Joining our list doesn’t obligate your participation – but you’ll be alerted to volunteer opportunities if emergencies threaten your area. The Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida maintains the volunteer list to protect your privacy.

Accredited veterinarians can join the list by clicking the first button below, or the second button if not currently accredited. And if you’d like to receive our monthly newsletter, click the third button.

Best wishes and fingers crossed for a quiet 2023 hurricane season,

-Dr. Julie Levy, Shelter Medicine Program at UF

P.S. I’ve held and let my accreditation lapse twice. Each time I thought it would be confusing and time-consuming to reinstate it. Hurricane Ian humbled me into overcoming my procrastination and to embark on the process again. It wasn’t hard at all. The process is clear, well documented, and quick. And there are no fees! Everyone was so responsive and helpful. If you are not accredited, take a moment to do it now. If you are intimidated, I’d be happy to be your guide — just click the middle button and we’ll get started. Or check out the links below if you want to go it alone (you can do it!)

Information quick links for veterinarian accreditation in Florida

Step one: Complete the national accreditation

  1. USDA APHIS webpage: How do I check my accreditation status?
  2. USDA APHIS webpage: How do I become accredited?
  3. USDA APHIS webpage: How do I get my accreditation reinstated?
  4. 6-digit National Accreditation Numbers: Forgot yours or don’t have one yet? Contact the Florida National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) Coordinator

Step two: Complete the Florida accreditation

New veterinary school graduates

  • You may find yourself in the awkward period between veterinary school, where you completed the requirements for accreditation, and waiting for your state veterinary license, which is required for accreditation.
  • This is a window when a lot of new graduates forget there is one more step to complete: a form to submit as soon as your state license comes through. Moving, preparing for a new job, fitting in a little R&R before the next phase of life starts . . . it’s easy to overlook this simple step.
  • Put a reminder in your calendar or you won’t be able to issue any health certificates for your clients. 🙁
  • As soon as you receive your state license to practice, you can submit VS Form 1-36A via email. And voila! You will soon be accredited. 🙂