30 years of giving—Part 1

Rescue dog and handlers at 9/11 site

In 2010, IDEXX introduced its Purpose and Guiding Principles: “To be a great company that creates exceptional long-term value for our customers, employees and shareholders by enhancing the health and well-being of pets, people and livestock.” In this, our 30th year, we take a moment to reflect on how, even before they were defined, those words have helped guide us in our desire to help people in need and to contribute to communities around the world.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, New York City, 2001

Most of us remember where we were when terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York City. Rescue operations were on the ground almost instantly to look for survivors. Among them were rescue dogs.

Over 400 dogs, including 100 military dogs, worked tirelessly, crawling and clawing through thousands of tons of rubble, searching for the wounded and the dead. They work in 12-hour shifts, in groups of 200. These dogs, exhausted and injured, were desperate to please their masters—they simply would not give up.

IDEXX was able to identify the location of the key Ground Zero Rescue Dog medical unit, a 40-foot self-contained mobile hospital equipped to provide the same medical services as a stationary hospital. Several diagnostic instruments, along with supplies critical to the proper care of the dogs, were delivered directly to the unit. Their ability to run diagnostics on the rescue dogs allowed the veterinarians on-site to oversee the health of these incredible animals, ordering rest, medical attention and retirement from the operation, when needed.

“We provided over 1,000 treatments to over 350 dogs at our MASH unit,” remembers Roy Gross, chief of Suffolk County SPCA. “We had 220 veterinarians volunteer from Long Island, New York and Westchester counties. There were search-and-rescue teams from all over North America, including Canada.”

“The work of the dogs was an integral part of the search efforts. Their keen sense of smell gives them an edge, and they’re able to access areas too difficult for humans. Some of the ailments we treated were dehydration, abrasions and lacerations, trauma from falls, infected eyes and ear irritation. The dogs were covered with dust. They were treated, bathed and hydrated intravenously, and their eyes were flushed with saline, which in turn flushed the nasal cavity. After resting, they returned to the job.”

“I am very proud of all of the members of the Suffolk County SPCA as well as the veterinarians, other agencies and canines that worked at Ground Zero,” says Gross. “They risked their lives to try to save others and to help bring closure to grieving families. These canines endured and kept on working like the true soldiers they are. One thing is certain: in the best of times and the worst of times, dogs are truly man’s best friend.”

Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Gulf Coast, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall 9 years ago in August, was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. In the days and months following the devastation, as many as 8,000 animals were rescued and brought to temporary shelters in Louisiana alone.

Animal rescue teams were set up in the worst-hit regions in response to desperate pleas from pet owners. Kristen Hibbetts, senior internal medicine consulting services manager for IDEXX made her way to one of those areas—Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Thanks to IDEXX instruments and tests, she and her team members were able to provide the critical services that saved many animals.

“When something like a hurricane hits an area, a lot of different groups are affected, including veterinarians. As they are trying to recover their lost equipment from flooding or damage, they often reach out to us and ask for help,” she says. “I think that IDEXX did an amazing job showing up when veterinarians needed help treating pets and while pet owners were desperately trying to find lost pets.”

Hibbetts said that the success on the ground depended on both people and equipment. “We really had a full hospital up and running,” she said. “I remember the sales rep for the area basically hand delivered any and all equipment you’d need in a field hospital; we could truly run any diagnostics we needed!”

IDEXX’s response to Katrina continued seven years later when members of the North America Internal Medicine Consulting Service ventured to New Orleans through the Global IDEXX Volunteer Efforts (GiVE) program to participate in an on-going Habitat for Humanity project to rebuild the city.

In June of this year, IDEXX celebrated 30 years of diagnostic innovation and growth at its world campus in Westbrook, Maine. Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ayers remarked that day, “Through a combination of quality products and services for our customers, as well as our commitment to the health and well-being of our employees and the communities where we work, IDEXX is making the world a better place.”

One thing is certain: in the best of times and the worst of times, dogs are truly man’s best friend.

Roy Gross, Chief of Department of Suffolk County SPCA