In response to recent episodes of hit US TV show The Walking Dead, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has released its top 5 reasons you want a veterinary surgeon as part of your zombie apocalypse team.

Dr Hershel Greene treats an injured Carl. Photo Bob Mahoney/AMCViewers of the acclaimed AMC zombie series (aired in the UK on FX) have recently been introduced to new character Dr Hershel Greene, who helps to treat and save the life of a critically injured child. Dr Greene, however, is not a human physician, but a veterinary surgeon.

The AVMA said: “Under normal circumstances, of course, we would never recommend that a veterinarian treat a human, but in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, well … physicians might be hard to come by, governing boards and malpractice laws are out the window and if one of your party is bleeding to death, a veterinarian just might give that person the best chance of survival.”

However, the show got the AVMA thinking: how else might a veterinarian prove useful in a zombie apocalypse?

Here are the AVMA’s top 5 reasons you’d want a vet as part of your zombie apocalypse team:

  1. They have a better chance at surviving: In the event of a zombie apocalypse, survivors are at a premium, and losing members of your group will make you much more vulnerable. The biggest risk is getting bitten by a zombie. Well, who’s better at avoiding bites than a veterinarian?
  2. Forget the gun, what you need is a veterinary surgeon! Image: AMCThey can provide medical care: Again, pre-apocalypse, see your physician. Post-apocalypse, if a physician isn’t available, you couldn’t do much better than having a veterinarian treat your (non-zombie-bite) wounds and illnesses. Veterinarians spend at least four years post-grad training to care for ALL species, so while the general anatomy might be slightly different, they’re probably not going to be overwhelmed by the prospect of working on human patients.
  3. They can take care of the animals: With electrical grids down and petrol no longer in production, you’re going to be relying on animals much more: dogs for protection, horses for transportation, livestock for food and labor. A veterinarian will make sure these highly valuable animals are well treated, healthy and performing at a high level.
  4. They can make sure your food is safe: Without grocery stores, restaurants or refrigerators, obtaining, storing and preparing food will provide a whole new set of challenges for most people. Vets have experience in ensuring food safety and testing; many work nationally to ensure food safety at processing plants and distribution centres, or across the globe working to make sure food for our troops is safe to eat. Unsure if the remaining meat from a deer carcass ravaged by zombies is safe to eat? Consult the veterinarian!
  5. They can find a cure: Vets are experts at studying the causes and distribution of diseases, or epidemiology. They’ve been invaluable in determining the source and distribution of several diseases that pose risk to humans, such as rabies, SARS, and West Nile virus. Veterinarians might be able to determine what causes people to turn into zombies and develop a cure. Why aren’t animals infected? Perhaps there’s an epidemiological clue there!


Walking Dead zombies. Photo Gene Page/AMC

Veterinary surgeons bring an enormous amount of talents to the table: They’re trained to treat all animals, from mice to elephants, from aardvarks to zebras and everything in between. They have expertise in animal welfare, food safety, environmental protection and public health.

They work all over the world, in all types of fields, helping to ensure the health of animals and people. And, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, they might just be the most valuable survivors of all.

  • Catch The Walking Dead, Fridays at 10pm on FX UK.

Images courtesy AMC