No one wants to envision what might happen to their horses if suddenly faced with a flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, earthquake, or other disaster, but in certain parts of the country these devastating events can be a part of life, and horse owners must be ready for them. Of course, location makes a difference in what to prepare for: Horse owners in the Rocky Mountains don’t need to worry about hurricanes or tornadoes, for instance, but they might be threatened by raging wildfires. Preparation is key to you and your horses’ well-being.
Regardless of where you and your horse live, you need to establish and record a plan for these types of situations. “There may not be much time to figure things out during an emergency, so you need an exit strategy—how to get out, safely, with your animals and secure your place before you leave,” says Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor and associate dean for clinical and outreach programs at The Ohio State University’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
Moore helped coordinate Gulf Coast hurricane relief for horses and owners in 2005 and 2006, seeing the gamut of what can happen to horse owners—prepared and not. He suggests at the very least having first-aid supplies on hand and easy-to-access contact information for veterinarians and people who could help transport your horses in the event of an evacuation—especially if you don’t have a trailer or if you have more horses than you can haul with your rig. He and other veterinarians experienced with disaster response offer ways to be ready if disaster hits.
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