Equine Disaster Planning

Forward planning may help you and your horse make it safely through a natural disaster. By Jayne Pedigo for EquiSearch.
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Forward planning may help you and your horse make it safely through a natural disaster. By Jayne Pedigo for EquiSearch.

Of course, hurricanes aren't the only natural disaster that may effect horse owners. Depending on which area of the country you live in, you may be at risk from:

  • wildfires
  • earthquakes
  • floods
  • ice storms

Making plans to protect your horses and other animals prior to the emergency may mean the difference between life and death. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer a tropical storm watch to alert you to current dangerous conditions, as well as disaster preparedness for you and your pets and information about the US Fire Administration.

When the order is given to evacuate, or when you feel it necessary, will you be prepared and have somewhere to take your horse? The Penzance Horse Source has been compiling a list of farms and individuals who are ready and willing to accept evacuees, which is listed by state. You are also encouraged to add your information to this list if you have the facilities. This listing has been officially recognized by the FEMA.

Many local horse councils are working hard to get disaster plans in place. In addition, local horse councils may be able to provide the names of area evacuation coordinators, emergency phone numbers and trailer coordinators (for those, like me, who do not own a trailer).

Many areas have an Equine Emergency Response team in place to educate horse owners in preparing for the effects of a natural disaster.

Of course, it is not always possible to evacuate horses because of the nature of the disaster and sometimes you just have to "get the heck out of Dodge". In the case where barns have been destroyed by tornadoes or horses have got loose because of downed fencing, horses may get loose. The University of Florida, Cooperative Extension service has put together an emergency handbook which is aimed at providing information to veterinarians and emergency personnel that may not be familiar with horses and covers such topics as catching loose horses, housing and feeding them until they can be returned to their owners.

While it is to be hoped that most of you never become the victims of a natural disaster, it only makes sense to be prepared and I hope I have given you some food for thought and links that will help you.