IT IS VITAL FOR ALL HORSE OWNERS TO PLAN, PREPARE AND PREVENT
Catastrophes can happen anywhere and can take different forms, from the most common barn fires to hurricanes, floods and wildfires. During any emergency, the time you may have to evacuate will be limited.
Develop a Written Disaster Plan
- Walk around and take a good look at your property, barn and pasture areas and determine if it would be best to try to evacuate or try to secure your horses at home. Make notes on what you would need to do in both instances.
- Contact your county animal disaster team, which is part of your county’s emergency management agency. The point of contact for animal emergencies during a declared disaster in the county emergency operations center in Florida is Emergency Support Function 17 (ESF-17). Request information on how their animal rescue teams operate, and what would be expected of you, the owner, in the event of a hurricane or other national disaster.
- Request a copy of their list of local animal rescue groups you can call in case your horses becomes lost or injured. Put it with your Disaster Plan.
- Involve all members of your household when formulating your plan so when the time comes everyone will be familiar enough to know what they can do to help.
- Put a copy of your Disaster Plan in a conspicuous place in your home and your barn.
Neighborhood Disaster Committees
Most horse owners live in horse communities. Contact your neighbors long before hurricane season, and organize your own neighborhood disaster committee. Schedule meetings at which horse owners discuss who has what in the way of equipment, concrete barns, flood areas, etc., and explore ways in which neighbors can help neighbors to accomplish a great deal. Need Help? Contact your county animal disaster team and they will be glad to help you form such a committee.
After Hurricane Andrew, 80% of the horses found carried no identification. This made the job of reuniting animals and owners much more difficult. Veterans of that storm compiled a list of suggestions to help ensure that your animal can be identified in the confusion that follows a hurricane. The following list includes a variety of alternatives from which you can choose:
- Take a picture of your horse with a family member in the photo as well. Then staple a copy of your Coggins test to the picture, along with other information such as tattoos, microchip ID, special scars and any other permanent identification. Place all these items in a zip-lock bag, and keep them in a safe place where you can get to them after a hurricane.
- If you choose to stay in your home, but feel that you may be asked to leave it at any time without your horse, make an extra set and take it with you.
- Put a leather halter on your horse with a luggage tag attached showing the horse’s name, address, phone number and owner’s name. Write any special needs on an index card; place this inside a small zip-lock bag, and wrap it around the side of the halter with tape.
- Purchase fetlock ID bands and place them on both front feet before a hurricane hits.
- Take a second luggage tag with the same information and braid it into the horse’s tail hair. Include all medical information. Caution: Do NOT tie the tag around the tail; this would cut off circulation.
- Neck ID bands with the same information can also be used. Check with your local tack store.
- Using small animal clippers, body clip the same phone number on your horse’s neck.
- Do not put a copy of the horse’s Coggins test on the horse. Animal Rescue may not be the ones to find your horse. A Coggins test is a passport out of state.
- Microchip your horse and ensure the contact information in the vendor’s database is you – often time it is pre-populated with the DVM who installed the microchip.
One of the goals of Animal Rescue is to find loose horses and get them reunited with the owners as soon as possible. These suggestions will help tremendously. Remember, you cannot have too much identification with your horse.
Disaster Preparedness for Horses