Horse Owners Encouraged to Have Evacuation Plan

The Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) is actively encouraging horse owners to have a disaster plan for the animals in their care. Lessons learned from prior hurricane experience have led the group to the development of comprehensive response plans for the state's agricultural industries. "These plans work best, when owners of animals are aware of the resources available to them and take proactive measures to ensuring the safety of their animals prior to a disaster," said Becky McConnico, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, an associate professor at Louisiana State University's School of Veterinary Medicine and LSART Equine Branch Supervisor/Leader.

Horse owners are ultimately responsible for the animals under their care.  This responsibility can begin by formulating a checklist to include the following:

  1. Establish an evacuation location for horses in the event of a fire, hurricane, flood, etc.
  2. Establish the means to transport horses to the predetermined location. For example,
    a.  Animal transport (trailer access),
    b.  Cash for fuel for vehicles, and food and water for horses, and
    c.  Supplies for taking care of horses (first aid kit, feed, hay, shavings, tack, etc.).
  3. Current Coggins test on ALL horses with Coggins paper in accessible location.
  4. If a shelter is chosen, owners need a 10-day supply of hay and water for horses.
  5. Phone list of important local and regional numbers regarding evacuation (can be found on www.LSART.org--under equine preparedness).

"Owners should not expect anyone other than themselves to be responsible for taking care of their animals in the event of a disaster," said McConnico. "In the event of a disaster, the point of contact for the horse-owning public is the emergency operations center in the parish or region which is usually the sheriff's office and includes the animal control officer."

Louisiana SART is a public/private partnership, joining government agencies, humane organizations, agriculture organizations, and the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association with business partners around the common goal of handling animal issues during disasters. For details on equine disaster preparedness in Louisiana, please visit www.LSART.org.

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