June Declared Disaster Preparedness Month

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has declared June National Disaster Preparedness Month for Animals. HSUS is launching programs to educate America on the need and the details for disaster preparedness for horses. These developments result from a historic agreement signed by the HSUS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in December of 2000. The organizations will help include animals (including horses, pets, and livestock) in communities' disaster and evacuation plans. People have included horses in disaster planning for years, but the FEMA/HSUS partnership will bring more attention to the importance of protecting horses from natural and man-made disasters.

"We are in the process of developing special courses in trailer extraction, horse rescue, horse handling skills, first aid, and animal sheltering to benefit emergency personnel and community organizations," explained Melissa Seide Rubin, HSUS Senior Director of Disaster and Field Services.

In addition to these educational efforts, HSUS will work to inform emergency management officials, response agencies, organizations, and individuals about proper techniques for horse protection and rescue in disaster situations. Educational materials will be developed about such topics as barn fire prevention and tips for evacuation.

HSUS will promote liaisons between equine associations/individual horse owners and emergency management agencies to strengthen the network of disaster resources. As a result, safe areas for horses, published evacuation routes, and sources of rescue equipment and trained personnel can be identified and available.

"It is important for people to understand that disasters occur more frequently than just hurricanes and earthquakes. Disasters can strike in the form of hazardous materials spills, train derailments, and fires," explained Rubin. "It is our goal to provide outlets for the equestrian community to access useful emergency planning information and partnership links so they can be prepared in disaster situations."

For more information, contact HSUS Disaster Services at 301/258-3103, or visit www.hsus.org/disaster/. For more on planning for disasters, see "Planning to Save Horses" on page 95. 

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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