Mark Salemi, D.V.M.
The following is an excerpt of a published article written by Dr. Salemi
regarding his experience volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11:
The Long Island Veterinary Medical Association had a Disaster
Preparedness Plan already in action on 9/11. They had had one in place since
1994, due to the hurricanes that threaten Long Island. It allowed them to
line up 3-4 weeks of volunteer veterinarians immediately. When I arrived for my
shift, 3 weeks after the attack, the search and recovery phase had already
started to wind down. I didn't have to do too much – I saw 1 dog with
cuts and bruises on his ankles and feet. I examined and bathed him, cleaned and
bandaged his wounds, and gave him a prophylactic injection of penicillin, as he
wagged his tail in appreciation.
The best thing was how all the people involved – vets, doctors,
fireman, police officers, and all the volunteers, were very good to each other
– not your typical image of the 'gruff New Yorker.' Everyone was so
courteous. There were no short tempers and everyone was willing to go the extra
mile. It's amazing how much the city, the country, and the world were drawn
together. It's a shame that something like this had to happen to make us
realize how small the world is and how we all have to live together.
I've been a veterinarian for a long time, and never in my life have
I seen dogs like those who were working at Ground Zero. Anyone I
spoke to felt the same. They had a goal, too. They would drag themselves
off The Pile, bruised, exhausted, and often frustrated. Then they were so happy
to be worked on – as they just sat there and lifted their paws. They'd go to
the MASH unit to be bathed and treated. Being recharged, our furry heroes
would enthusiastically drag their handlers back onto The Pile with vigor. They
all knew what their job was that day.
Mark Salemi, D.V.M.
In light of the recent tragic events in
New York City, at the World Trade Center on September 11th and the American
Airline crash shortly thereafter, the New York City Veterinary Medical
Association is developing a Disaster Preparedness Committee. This Committee is
presently laying the groundwork for organizing a list of veterinarians in the
New York City area to respond in emergency situations. The participants
must be willing to be available on an on-call basis at any time of the day for
any future incidents, be they natural or man-made. If any qualified New York
veterinarians are interested, please contact Mark Salemi, D.V.M.,
President of the NYC VMA, at Northside Animal Hospital, Staten Island, N.Y.
(718) 981-4445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.