Too Early to Establish Impact of Southern Tornadoes on Horses

Something wicked this way came--a tornado outbreak involving more than 160 individual tornadoes, touching down from Mississippi all the up the East Coast. So far, at least 200 people are reported dead, the majority in Alabama. At present, the storm's impact on Alabama's equine population is undetermined.

"It is too early at this point to tell," said Cindy McCall, PhD, equine extension specialist from the Alabama Extension Cooperative System.

It is possible, however, that the equine impact could be relatively minimal because the largest tornados mainly affected the major metropolitan areas.

Tuscaloosa was hard hit by a 1.5 km (just under a mile)-wide tornado, killing at least 30 people. That tornado traveled approximately 176 miles, and authorities believe it could have impacted livestock in the surrounding areas.

Sally Baker, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the American Association of Equine Practitioners, indicated, "We have not received any firsthand reports from equine veterinarians in the (Northern Alabama) area at this point."

According to McCall, "A Horse Council meeting was canceled last night and rescheduled for tonight. More information should be available after the meeting."

Alabama horse farm manager John Galloway, from Laceys Spring, reported that the barn and house at one area horse farm were completely destroyed by a tornado. One horse was killed by flying debris and another was euthanized as a result of his injuries at that farm. He stated that the main problem right now is the lack of fuel available at local gas stations from Athens to south of Birmingham, impeding clean-up and moving horses from damaged farms to safer areas.

Although peak tornado season has yet to arrive, horse owners are encouraged to review disaster preparation strategies. will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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