Responding to Calls after Rita

Days after Rita, equine rescue requests are still coming in to the Louisiana State University Horse Hurricane Hotline, although not with the urgency or number of calls that poured in after Hurricane Katrina hit several weeks ago.

"Today we're sending a team over to Sulphur, La., which is on the western side of Lake Charles," said Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, director of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Health Studies Program (EHSP). "We'd gotten an e-mail from the granddaughter of this lady who had to evacuate from Sulphur (in Calcasieu Parish) to De Ridder, La. She apparently left 17 horses."

Sonny Corley, DVM, of Acadiana Equine Clinic in Lafayette, La., drove over to Sulphur to check on the horses Tuesday (Sept. 27), and he saw seven horses--one stallion and six others. The stallion was in an area fenced by barbed wire, and there were two groups of three horses, one in the front of the property, and one in back.

"They've taken one big trailer that can hold 10-12 horses," added Moore on Sept. 28. The trailer was filled with feed, hay, and medical supplies to drop off at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center (the staging site for evacuations), before heading into Sulphur. "If they end up finding more horses, they could either call (for another trailer) or return for them."

The team will also check on a report of another three horses stranded just northeast of Lake Charles, La.

Yesterday (Sept. 28), two other EHSP representatives, Leslie Talley, a supervisor of veterinary technicians in the equine section of the veterinary teaching hospital, and Ky Mortensen, director of advancement for the EHSP, headed back into Katrina-ravaged Plaquemines Parish, which is southeast of New Orleans. "We've had persistent reports of eight horses stranded on a levy," Moore said. "Dr. (Stephen) Hebert confirmed that they are there, but apparently there's enough feed and grass and water, but there's a real need to get them off of there. It's still not passable because there's a lot of water.

"One time, probably four or five years ago, we rescued about a dozen horses out of a flooded area--three with a helicopter sling and the other nine we anesthetized and put them on a flat boat to get them out of there," Moore added. "(Talley and Mortensen) are going to investigate and might pursue that Thursday or Friday. It's not an emergency, but it's something that Dr. Hebert said needs to be done."

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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