“Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy” – Max Mayfield, former Director, National Hurricane Center.
Before the Storm:
Keep a list of phone numbers available including your local sheriff/law enforcement and Animal
Rescue/Control who will be leading operations following a hurricane.
Your horse should have at least two of the following: microchip, tattoo, brand, and a waterproof label. Legible details of someone outside the storm zone as phone service may be unavailable.
Have Coggins results and a recent health certificate safe in case of evacuation. Your horse should be up to date on vaccines: tetanus, West Nile, and Encephalitis viruses. Pictorial proof of ownership will help if your horse is missing. Have a stocked, waterproof first-aid kit accessible after the storm. On the farm, potential projectile objects should be stored carefully. Turn off electricity to the barn.
During the Storm:
Flood plains/coastal areas should be evacuated. Ideally, evacuate more than 48-72 hours before storm winds arrive. It’s dangerous to transport horses in winds over 40mph and emergency services cannot travel until winds are below 40mph.
If evacuation is not possible and without a secure barn, outdoors is best with strong fencing, not barbed/electrified. Horses should be on high ground with suitable fodder and clean water. If a secure indoor facility is available, leave sufficient water and feed with each horse, you may not be able to reach your animals for days. Extra rations and water should be stored in water/rodent proof containers for after the storm has passed.
After the Storm:
Examine each horse for injuries, seeking veterinary attention if necessary. Walk the pastures inspecting for downed power lines, toxic plants, remove debris and repair any fencing. Photograph the storm damage. If your horse is missing contact the Disaster Response Team, local law enforcement, or Animal Control/Rescue.
column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.