Find Equine Evacuation Sites in Texas

The Texas Animal Health Commission is advising those evacuating for Hurricane Ike to call 2-1-1 for the latest information on available facilities open for emergency animal sheltering for livestock and pets.

"The 2-1-1 operators assist evacuees with other information, and operational animal shelters are another important piece of information the operators can provide evacuees," said Matt Cochran, DVM, emergency management veterinarian with the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. The TAHC is one of more than 30 agencies on Texas' Emergency Management Council for the Governor's Division of Emergency Management.

For several years, TAHC staff members have worked with livestock facility owners and managers to determine which sale barns, expo centers, and show grounds can be used to shelter livestock during emergencies.

As there is no state agency responsible for companion animals, the Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART) works with animal care organizations to assist local communities to provide emergency shelters for pets.

The TAHC and Texas Agrilife extension agents have teamed up in many counties with local emergency management coordinators, veterinarians, ranchers, feed stores, and local animal care groups to develop volunteer animal issue committees and develop response plans for sheltering or evacuation. By planning ahead for "worst-case" scenarios, the committees are prepared for all aspects of animal care, including emergency shelter, triage and routine care, and carcass disposal if necessary.

If you plan to weather the storm at home, here are some general guidelines to follow, provided by the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine:

  • The choice of keeping your horse in a barn or an open field is up to you. Use common sense, taking into consideration barn structure, trees, power lines, condition of surrounding properties, and the likelihood of the property and structure to flood. Farms subject to storm surge or flash flooding should turn their horses out so horses are not trapped. Do not lock horses in stalls.
  • Remove all items from the barn aisle and walls, and store them in a safe place.
  • Have at least a two- to three-week supply of hay and feed. Wrap or cover hay in plastic tarps, and store feed in plastic water-tight containers.
  • Place these supplies in the highest and driest area possible, out of reach of floodwaters.
  • Fill clean plastic garbage cans with fresh water, secure the tops, and store them in the barn for use after the storm.
  • Have an emergency barn kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammers, a saw, nails, screws, and fencing materials. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits so that it is easily accessible after the storm.
  • Be sure to have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries.
  • Listen to local radio stations in your area. If Internet access is available, access state-run Web sites that contain accurate status information (i.e., State Police, State University, State Department of Agriculture). Take all cautions and warnings seriously and act accordingly.

Visit Equine.vetmed.lsu.edu for more detailed information regarding horse hurricane preparations and other emergency and health-related information.

For more tips for veterinary clinics and large equine facilities, see "Preparing a Veterinary Practice for a Hurricane."

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