Horses Lost In Hurricane Charley

Three horses were euthanized in Florida due to injuries sustained from flying debris during Hurricane Charley, according to Alan Schwartz of Days End Farm Horse Rescue of Lisbon, Md. Friday, Aug. 13, was in fact a bad luck day, as winds up to 145 miles per hour ripped across Florida. Code 3 Associates, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Disaster Animal Response Team (DART), the Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), and the state Emergency Support Function 17, are just a few of the organizations across the country that have come to the aid of animals across Florida.

It was Code 3 Associates who called for the services of Schwartz, who arrived in Polk County on Aug. 18. He has been stationed in Bartow, Fla., at the Bob Crawford Agricultural Center (also the Polk County 4-H Center), which is serving as a command center for equine rescue efforts. He has been on a team with Florida Department of Agriculture representatives and EARS veterinary technicians, which collaborated with the Hillsborough Veterinary Office of Hillsborough County to deliver water and feed to horse farms in the area. He reports that the main problem with the horses right now is heat stroke, as most farms are left in the sweltering heat without electricity and water. The team moved to Wauchula, Fla., on Aug. 19, to provide the same services to more horses. Currently, the total number of horses that have been critically injured or killed statewide is unknown.

Suncoast Humane Society (SHS) has been established as the staging area for the Charlotte County small animal disaster relief center and the county emergency operations center. About a mile away, lost horses and other livestock are being kept on local baseball fields at Carmelita Park in Punta Gorda. So far, two horses have been found and claimed by their owners in this area, according to Melissa Forberg, a representative from the HSUS who is stationed at the Charlotte County center.

Representatives from the SHS, the state Emergency Support Function 17, and DART are actively working to provide supplies for rescued Charlotte County animals. Field teams--made up of certified rescuers, veterinarians, and knowledgeable volunteers--organized by the SHS are responsible for the delivery of supplies to the horse farms. A county fire truck is on loan to help transport the large amounts of water to the local farms.

The rescue operations are going extremely well, and Forberg said, "We are about a week to a week and a half ahead (in our animal rescue efforts) of where we were after Hurricane Andrew." She contributes this to the emergency animal rescue teams being in place and prepared for disasters.

Horses typically fair better left outside during storms since in most instances, the falling beams and debris can present much more danger to the horse. Schwartz said, "Horse owners were actually prepared for the (Hurricane Charley) disaster, and most left their horses outside, and they have ridden the storm out very well."

About the Author

Rachael C. Turner

Rachael Turner is the former Photo and Newsletter Editor for The Horse. She is an avid event rider. Rachael's main focus is dressage and on training young horses with the proper foundation for success. She is also a member of the United States Dressage Federation and the United States Equestrian Federation. Her website is avonleaequestrian.com.

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