Equine Rescue and Relief in Louisiana

The following is a report from the Larmar Dixon Expo Center in Louisiana.

The horse rescue and relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina are still ongoing and have been a resounding success. A total of 381 animals (approximately 15 goats, two pot bellied pigs, and the balance of horses/mules) have been processed by the Horse Unit staged at Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La. There have been a total of 163 horses/mules returned to their owners, most identified by microchips implanted or lip tattoos. There are currently 218 horses being housed at Lamar Dixon under the supervision of coordinator Bonnie Clark, president of the Louisiana Equine Council, and staffed by numerous volunteers, including attending veterinarian Dennis French, DVM, MS, Dipl. ABVP, of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Equine Clinic, numerous veterinary school students, out-of-state and out of area veterinarians, local horse/farm owners, and many out-of-state volunteers.

Numerous teams of rescuers risked their lives to access the often dangerous areas affected and remove the horses from harm. Of great assistance were the veterinarians from the Equine Clinic of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, USDA, the Habitat for Horses group based out of Texas, local farm owners, and out-of-state volunteers. Of the 218 horses in-house, 109 have been identified by owners and will be seeking temporary pasture/barn space, mainly within the state of Louisiana or nearby states.

Those willing to donate pasture/barn space can contact Clark at 562/708-9601. Those wishing to donate monetarily should make checks payable to: LVMA Equine Committee Foundation, subject: Horse Hurricane Relief. Mail the checks to Dr. Sonny Corley, LVMA Equine Committee Foundation, 121 E. Gloria Switch, Lafayette, LA 70507.

A tremendous number of shipments of hay, feed, and supplies have been received at Lamar Dixon. A huge thank you from the Horse Unit goes out to all offering and providing assistance.

Future efforts for those affected by Katrina will be designated areas for shipments of supplies to assist those owners with horses in place, but no access to feed, hay, and other supplies. Other individual groups involved in rescue/placement are asked to contact Dr. Clark with location, location of pick-up, description, and photos of horses being housed to facilitate their return to their owners. Rescued horses should not be transported out of state, further delaying the process of returning them to owners.

Hurricane Rita will be monitored and a staging area might be set up in West Louisiana if deemed appropriate. The Horse Unit does not have Internet access at Lamar Dixon, and some corresponding e-mail addresses have had full mail boxes for two weeks. Attempts will be made on a weekly basis to check e-mail through alternate local sources.

The horse unit asks all interested parties to call the Horse Hurricane Helpline manned by the LSU Vet School at 225\578-9501 or Clark at 562\708-9601. Communication is very sporadic and it might take a while to get through.

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