Colorado Horse Community Facing Flooding

As rescue teams search for hundreds of people who remain unaccounted for after floods ravaged parts of Colorado, horse owners are working to rescue at-risk animals and care for those displaced or stranded by the flooding.

High flood waters have been wreaking havoc on areas of northern Colorado since rains began falling last Wednesday (Sept. 11). CNN reported Sept. 17 that the flooding has left six people dead, hundreds more unaccounted for, and nearly 18,000 homes damaged across the state.

On Sept. 18 the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) issued an e-mail statement on the flooding and its impact on animal health.

“The area impacted is comprised of important agricultural-producing counties," CDA Deputy Commissioner Ron Carleton said in the statement. "Livestock appear to be relatively safe at this point but there are a tremendous amount of crops under water. It is too early to anticipate how this will affect agriculture. We need to let the flooding recede to see what lies beneath the water but there will, no doubt, be some losses and long-term effects.”

The CDA statement indicated that "there have been a number of questions pertaining to potential animal health and disease impacts due to the flood and environmental changes." The department encouraged owners to report any disease, unusual morbidity, mortality, or clinical signs "that do not fit a normally expected clinical picture" to the office.

The CDA also noted that animal sheltering has occurred in various locations. "At this time, evacuation, care, and sheltering needs are being met and new requests seem to be decreasing due to the overwhelming response by volunteers throughout many organizations," the statement said.

Volunteers are helping affected horse owners however they can. Denver-based 9News reported that several individuals jumped into rising flood waters to help Greely farm owners Tom and Leslie Lange evacuate 51 Quarter Horses out of danger last Friday. Meanwhile, CBS Denver reported that volunteers helped rancher Kevin Ochsner rescue nearly a dozen horses and about 70 cattle from his property and neighboring properties over the weekend.

The horse community still needs more help, however, and several organizations have stepped up to help. The Colorado Horsecare Foodbank has launched a flood emergency hay hotline and is accepting donations of hay, funds, and volunteers to help provide assistance to horse owners in need.

Additionally, a dedicated Facebook page—the Colorado Disaster Wildfire/Flood Lost & Found Pets—was launched earlier this year to help owners find animals lost during the wildfires that ravaged Colorado. Posts on the page now include animals lost or found during the flooding, as well as people offering temporary housing for displaced animals. will continue gathering information and provide updates on the situation in Colorado.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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