Mississippi Horse Park Available as Equine Evacuation Site

When hurricanes approach the Mississippi and Louisiana shores, many coastal horse owners seek refuge at the Mississippi Horse Park near Starkville. The horse park has 300 stalls and 150 RV sites.

"We expect to see a lot of repeat customers from past hurricane evacuations," said Bricklee Miller, manager of the Mississippi Horse Park and Agricenter, as Gustav neared the coast last weekend. The facility is located on Mississippi State University's (MSU) South Farm.

"The horse park is an ideal facility--far enough from the coast to be safe, but not too far to drive," Miller said. "It has excellent stalls, arenas, RV hook-ups, showers, and bathrooms. It is also a location that is very hospitable to other animals fleeing the storm with families."  

"We want people to feel welcome and comfortable coming to this facility and to this community to ride out the storm," she said. "In past years, local horse owners donated hay and assisted with animal care. Our intention is to expand our care for future refugees by providing snacks and a meal each day.

"These are among the most sturdy facilities available for animals. Most of Mississippi's agricenters are fairly new and high-quality facilities that will be comfortable for animals and people," Miller said.

Carla Huston, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM, an MSU College of Veterinary Medicine associate professor of pathobiology and population medicine, serves on the Mississippi Animal Response Team. This team responds after disasters and in emergency situations to assist with animal care and recovery.

"If emergency management is recommending people leave the coast because of pending weather, horses and other animals need to evacuate, also," Huston said. "When a hurricane approaches, horse owners want to have their animals in the first wave of refugees leaving the warning area to avoid getting caught in traffic and risking overheating trucks pulling trailers."

Certain measures should be taken before evacuation orders are given. Animals should have current tetanus shots, and owners should have medical kits packed with supplies for treating cuts and abrasions. Have paperwork such as Coggins tests, photos and descriptions of each animal handy. (See more on hurricane preparedness for horse owners.)

For more advice on preparation needs and first aid kits, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association's Web site at AVMA.org and look for disaster preparedness information.

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