Though Hurricane Isaac’s high winds and heavy rains have ceased, disaster response teams in Louisiana continue to search for and rescue animals displaced by the storm including one Paint horse still stranded on a levee in Plaquemines Parish.
On Aug. 28 Hurricane Isaac made landfall bringing 60 mph winds and accompanying floodwaters to Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, displacing horses and other livestock from their pastures. However in Louisiana, members of the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine Disaster Response Team, along with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), almost immediately began search-and-rescue operations to locate horses and other livestock displaced by the storm.
Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, professor and director of Equine Health Studies Program at LSU said that equine rescue operations began on Aug. 30 when members of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Disaster Response Team, along with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) team members, rescued an Appaloosa mare from rising waters in Livingston Parish.
On Aug. 31, 25 team members were deployed to assess horses and shelter needs in St. John the Baptist Parish. Rescue operations continued on Sept. 1 and 2 when five Sicilian donkeys, a pony, and six horses including a stallion were rescued from a levee in Plaquemines Parish. The animals were transported to the Plaquemines Parish Rescue Ranch for evaluation and subsequent veterinary care, he said.
Andrews added that many of the rescued horses were treated for lacerations to their limbs and pectoral area probably sustained when the animals broke through pasture fences and traveled through surrounding floodwaters that reached 8-feet or more.
"The horses were probably running in water chest high bumping into everything that went floating by," Andrews said.
Lorie Wilson of the Plaquemines Parish Equine Rescue said that, in all, 31 horses and other livestock were under care at the ranch.
"They’re being monitored every day, being treated as necessary, and being well cared for," Wilson said.
On Sept. 4, Andrews said that a Paint horse stranded and stuck in mud on a levee in Plaquemines Parish remained in need of rescue. However, due to the horse’s location and the still high, floodwaters, rescue teams remain unable to reach the animal.
"We got an aerial view of (the horse), but right now, there's no humanly possible way to get out there," Andrews said.
Just when the horse will be rescued depends on how quickly floodwaters recede, Andrews said.
Meanwhile, Wilson said that the search for horses and other livestock displaced by Isaac will continue, but the going is slow. "There's only one way in and one way out of the flooded areas," she said. "It's going to take time."
But even when all the horses have been recovered, many will be in need of new homes.
"Some owners have already given up the horses, so once they’ve had a chance to recover, we'll be looking for new adoptive owners," she said.
In the meantime, the Plaquemines Parish Equine Rescue is in need of feed and other horse care supplies. Donations may be made through the Horse Ministry of the Crossroads Church, 308 Avenue J, Belle Chasse, La., 504/394-5111, Wilson said.
About the Author
Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.