A New Orleans Vet's Perspective

"It's just so amazing to me that in one day, it can all be lost and suddenly you live in a dangerous place," said Allison Barca, DVM, who has served many of the horses in and around New Orleans for years. Most of Barca's clients were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Since the storms, she said she's been living a sort of hell, seeing clients each day who have lost family, horses, and homes, and identifying dead horses so their owners can have closure.

Barca reported every single barn in the Katrina-affected areas requires some kind of repair, either from wind damage or flooding. She also said when agricultural loss figures were determined for hurricane-affected areas, the horse industry wasn't included. Many horse owners who are wealthy enough to rebuild and keep their horses have packed up and moved. "Every day I spend time filling out health certificates for another one of my clients to leave the state," she said.

Barca says many families have settled in new areas and decided they're not coming back.

To complicate matters, it is unlikely that many barns in New Orleans that were lost can be rebuilt because of a moratorium on building stables. Some stables were based on leased land the owner might decide could be better used for something else.

"Every time we lose a stable, we lose it forever," Barca said. "You can't just rebuild nearby."

She thinks it will take the interest of non-horse people to help the impacted horse industry rebuild. "Nobody (non-horse people) seems to think this is anything to worry about--it's just a hobby. The horse people alone cannot do it. They need to be treated like any other business.

"Some people say this is the 100-year storm and we won't see another one for another 100 years," she continued. "I think it's going to happen again. Why should they build more levees for something that's going to fill up with water?" (More information: www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=4878).


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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