Louisiana State University Equine Rescue Operations

Whereas the needs of horses and local equine facilities have changed somewhat in the two weeks following Hurricane Katrina, the rescue efforts of the Louisiana State University (LSU) team continue on a daily basis. Horses continue to be brought in, although on a much smaller scale. Horses and mules are now being claimed by their owners, and feed and supplies are being distributed as needed to a number of affected areas.

"We've got a good handle on things logistically right now," said Dr. Rustin Moore, director of the Equine Health Studies Program and Equine Clinic at LSU. "The initial rush of calls coming in and teams heading out to help has wound down considerably, but we still have a lot of people out there who need help at their own equine facilities, and we have a good number of horses who are going to require care for an unknown amount of time," he continued. "We knew going into this that we were in it from start to finish. So we'll just continue to take it day by day, respond to the needs that still exist and work toward finding the owners of the horses that remain in our possession."

The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, the central staging area for horses recently retrieved from the New Orleans area, has taken in more than 350 equids and currently houses about 275 horses and mules yet to be claimed by their owners. The LSU team has successfully reunited many owners and horses and have released 75 or more to their owners, who have taken them to other boarding facilities.

"We're in pretty good shape right now in terms of supplies," said Bonnie Clark, President of the Louisiana Equine Council. Having worked in equine rescue during Hurricane Andrew, Clark has been the on-site coordinator of the equine staging area from the beginning. "Right now, its just a matter of staying up to speed with what we have, getting supplies to areas that are still in need, and working with owners to help them accurately identify their horses," said Clark.

"The response from the industry has been incredible," she added. "We've been out here day and night and are on the front line of this thing, but don't think for a minute we've been alone in our efforts...from feed companies to private hay haulers, medical and general supply vendors, volunteers, you name it, the outpour of support has been incredible."

"We're still sending out a few teams to select areas," said Moore, "but I think we'll see the last of the large scale deployments by the end of this week."

"It's been amazing to see the things we've encountered through these efforts," said Ky Mortensen, Director of Advancement for the LSU team. "If you take a look at some of the outcomes of various missions into different areas, we came back with horses, mules, goats, dogs, cats, birds, and iguanas. There is literally everything out there. We go into each area after horses, but when you get there, you take whatever comes with it," he continued. "Sometimes a horse comes with two birds and an iguana…and you simply have to make room and do the best you can to accommodate whatever happens to need help."

"We're doing pretty well here all things considered" said Dr. Dennis French, LSU field service veterinarian. "We've seen a lot of small cuts and bruises, and we did have a couple of horses that needed more advanced care when they first came in due to dehydration, but overall we really haven't had a huge onset of medical issues to contend with, which has been fortunate."

"Most of these horses coming in here have been a pretty resilient bunch," he continued. "This has been an incredible experience for all of us, and I know I've said it before, but the level of care and dedication that these horses have received from the veterinary students at LSU, it's simply been amazing."

At this time, rescued horses will continue to be housed at Lamar-Dixon through the end of this month until owners have either identified them and made arrangements for their transport and housing or long-term foster care is identified and implemented. Many individuals and farms offering assistance have been noted and can be called upon in the future should the need for long-term foster care be needed. Until then, owners are encouraged to identify their animals as quickly as possible. We urge owners who have not yet located their horses to go to Barn #4 at Lamar Dixon Expo Center and check in with a staff member and then begin looking through the remainder of the horses to determine if their horse(s) are there. Having tattoo or microchip numbers, photos, and other evidence of ownership will be helpful and necessary to claim the horses.

Currently, the team has a more-than-adequate volunteer base and sufficient hay, feed, medical, and other supplies. However, our needs are dynamic. Therefore, the best way to assist the Louisiana horse victims of Hurricane Katrina and to help offset the costs associated with rescue, recovery, treatment, sheltering, and rehabilitation of these horses, is to provide a monetary contribution. Please provide a monetary contribution by making a check payable to the "LVMA Equine Committee" (write "Horse Hurricane Relief" on the memo line) and mail to Dr. Sonny Corley, LVMA Equine Committee, 121 E. Gloria Switch, Lafayette, LA 70507 or call 337/235-9945.

Here's a glimpse of some of the efforts over the past few days:

Friday, Sept. 9
GROUP 3 – Departed @ 11:00 am
Drs. Jeremy Hubert, Ashley Stokes, and Sara Lyle with RT Fitch from Habitat for Horses with six-horse trailer and 45 bales of hay to take to Dr. Hebert (Plaquemine Parish Veterinarian) and another long stock trailer from Habitat for Horses. On the way back, will pick up a dog in respiratory distress in Plaquemine Parish animal shelter in school on Main Street.
OUTCOME: Hubert is headed back with three horses, one dog, two iguanas, and two birds. Stokes delivered a trailer load of hay for horses in Plaquemines parish to Dr. Hebert.

Saturday, Sept. 10
GROUP 1 – Algiers and New Orleans areas (Esplanade/Bourbon St. & Chartres) – Departed @ 9:00 am
Hubert, Lyle, Dr. Rocky Bigbie, Leslie Talley, Matt McGeachey, and others with Roger Seitzmeir in a truck and eight-horse trailer and Lyle's SUV.
OUTCOME: Brought back 11 horses (three stallions, six geldings and four mares) from the Algiers area. The two horses from Chartres/St. Claude had already been picked up, but they did bring back four dogs. There was no evidence of a horse on Esplanade/Bourbon and the request for evacuation of the one at Denny Stable was called off since someone else was picking up the horse.

Sunday, Sept. 11 – Departed @ 9:30 am
GROUP 2 – St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans
Dr. Dale Paccamonti, Dr. Robert Henderson, Talley, and two volunteers took one truck and a truck and six-horse stock trailer.
They delivered a large truck load of food for people in St. Bernard Parish that had been helpful with the many horse rescues and were in need of food and supplies, including a generator. The food and the generator were gathered by Talley's church. They also took dog and cat food to drop off at the military check points since these people were feeding the dogs and cats and trying to collect them.
They also went to look for a horse in the area around the Children's Hospital off of Tchoupatoulas street--the horse had been sighted and reported by Lt. Colonel Bruce Williams and Major Finn who were at the LSA Guard Point. This was a white horse reported to have some lacerations on its legs in the Washington Avenue/Jefferson area near Xavier University.
OUTCOME: They delivered the food for people and generator to Mr. Marvin Johnson in St. Bernard Parish and left dog food at several checkpoints in St. Bernard Parish. They ended up bringing five horses back from the area around Xavier with the assistance of the military personnel at the LSA Guard Point. These were delivered back to Lamar-Dixon about 9:30 pm.
Tuesday, Sept. 13,
GROUP 1 – Folsom and Covington Hay/Feed Drop for 2 farms – Departed @ 7:30 am
Jerry from Habitat for Horses along with helpers.
OUTCOME: Hay and vaccines were delivered to the two farms. On their way back, we got a report through the Helpline that there were 6 horses loose in a construction site along Hwy 1077 ~1-2 miles north of I-12 near Covington. This team responded and found the horses. They could not identify an owner or find any evidence of where the horses should go. They left word with the police dept. that the horses would be at Lamar Dixon and gave the Helpline number. They took the horses back to Lamar Dixon.

GROUP 2 – Deliver two horses for Tina Bodine to Christy Lewis in – Departed @ 9:30 am
Tina Bodine called and arranged for horses to be delivered to Laurel Hill Ranch.
Carla Dupuis will arrive at Lamar Dixon ~ 8:30 am and transport these two horses.
OUTCOME: They transported the horses and then took some additional vaccines to a farm in Covington.

GROUP 3 – St. Bernard Parish – Departed @ 10:00 am
Henderson, Dr. Lee Ann Fugler and Talley will take the LSU truck and four-horse trailer along with a lady (Missy) whose horse has been spotted near the EBI in Braithwaite between EBI and the State Park. It is a small (13.5 hand) black mare with a small white spot on her forehead.
OUTCOME: They found the mare, caught her, loaded her, and were headed back. The other two horses with this mare followed the truck/trailer for about two miles so they decided rather than have these horses loose on the highway, they loaded them and took all three horses back to Lamar-Dixon.

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