Texas A&M Vet College Helping Coordinate Area Equine Evacuation

As Hurricane Ike sets its eye on the Texas Coast, thousands of coastal residents are going to be mandated to evacuate their homes.

In the aftermath of Katrina, it was discovered that many of those who suffered the greatest losses were those who stayed behind because they were unable to bring their animals with them in an evacuation. Following that experience, federal law now allows evacuees to bring their pets. Although it is not currently mandated that evacuees must be allowed to leave with livestock, to many horse and livestock owners, the impact of losing these animals would be devastating. For this reason, the Brazos County Animal Issues Committee has been working since Hurricane Rita to prepare not only for small companion animals, but also for larger ones as well.

The Brazos County Emergency Management Team, in cooperation with the Brazos Animal Shelter and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, has been preparing to receive animals arriving with evacuees from Hurricane Ike. A unique part of the sheltering plan in Brazos County has been the response plan for those evacuating with horses and domestic livestock.

Animal owners in Brazos County are asked to first go to the reception center at Veteran's Park, where they will receive shelter assignments. Large animals (domestic livestock, including horses) and small animals will be housed in two separate locations.

Veterinarians and students from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences will manage the large animal shelter. The Brazos Animal Shelter, with support from the Brazos Valley Veterinary Medical Association and the Brazos Valley Small Animal Response Team, will manage the small animal shelter.

Both the Small Animal Hospital and the Large Animal Hospital located at the College of Veterinary Medicine will be available only for emergency care of those animals arriving in Brazos County sick and/or injured, and those that might become sick and/or injured while in a shelter. These facilities will not be available as shelter sites.

At this time, animals will be sheltered on a first-come, first-served basis. In the large animal shelter, there is a limited capacity of 200 horses, 80 head of cattle, and 80 small ruminants and pigs.

In addition, the College of Veterinary Medicine has established an Emergency Response Web site that can be a valuable resource to those planning for evacuation. It can be accessed at CVM.tamu.edu. On the site are links to maps on how to reach the Reception Center at Veteran's Park, policies and procedures for pet owners sheltering at one of the two designated sites, and preparation lists for evacuating with pets.

For additional information, please visit CVM.tamu.edu, or Brazos County Emergency Management, 979/393-9913 or 979/393-9914.

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