Only Four Rescued Horses Are Unidentified at Lamar-Dixon; Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony to be Held Oct. 9

Nearly 400 horses and mules have been processed at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La., since post-hurricane rescues began, and according to Bonnie Clark, president of the Louisiana Equine Council, all but four have unique identification (breed association tattoos or microchips).

Clark has been heading up equine operations at the staging facility since the first shipment of rescued horses and mules arrived on Sept. 1. Of the 364 horses that have come through Lamar-Dixon, 176 remain there. "Most are owned and identified and we're just finding places for them to be moved," Clark reported. The target date for removing the remaining horses is October 10.

Twenty of the yet-unclaimed horses processed at Lamar-Dixon have microchips or tattoos that will reveal who the owners of the horses are; Clark has submitted the numbers to breed organizations and reference agencies and is waiting for a response. "We know that they will in some, way, shape or form, have contact information (associated with them)," she said. The other four horses have no tattoo or microchip.

Clark is happy that so many of the horses have been identified. "To my knowledge, I don't think this (identifying so many horses' owners after a disaster) has ever been done before," she said. "I've got to attribute that to the microchip system (required for horses being shipped in the state of Louisiana) and the way this whole system has been handled.

"We've been working closely with Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and some of the USDA vets," who helped send out press releases about Lamar-Dixon being the place horse owners should check for their horses, she said. "If someone comes down and claims the horse and I can verify to that microchip, it is 100% accurate. That has been fantastic. I strongly encourage every horse owner to microchip their horse."

Amidst the happy reunions, there have been some deep disappointments. At least 10 times, owners who knew their horses were rescued arrived at Lamar-Dixon and did not find their horses there. Individuals who rescued horses independently need to contact Clark, because she has no way of knowing where these animals are. She is aware that some individuals might be trying to connect the rescued horses with the owners via the Internet, but Clark points out, "A lot of these horse owners are in shelters and don't have access to the Internet.

"I know they're trying to do a good thing and their hearts are in the right place, but they at the very least need to let us know what animals they have so I can let the owners know which organization is holding these animals," and the owners and horses have a greater chance of being reunited, she pleads.

If you have removed horses from the Louisiana Gulf Coast area and have not let officials at Lamar-Dixon know their whereabouts, please e-mail so we can put you in touch with Clark. Owners are still contacting her looking for their lost horses.

Additionally, Clark wanted to dispel some of the Internet rumors about horses at Lamar. "Not a single horse has been stolen or sold," she assures. The only horses that have left Lamar-Dixon at this point were claimed by their owners.

Appreciation Ceremony Set

Today, Clark told The Horse that a special ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. CDT on Oct. 9 in appreciation of the many people who have helped with the horse hurricane relief effort at Lamar-Dixon, including veterinarians, volunteers, and employees.

"It's going to be a small appreciation ceremony, and it's not open for the public, but for the horse volunteers, veterinarians, veterinary students, supply donors, and the staff of Lamar-Dixon," Clark said. "Everybody that's been involved with this operation is invited. Louis Charbonnet (owner of the rescued Mid-City Carriage horses and mules--see story here) is going to have one of his trolleys and a carriage, and he's going to hook up two of his teams.

"On that day, I hope to announce that all of the horses' owners have been found," Clark added.

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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