8 Natural Disaster Tips for Horse Owners

8 Natural Disaster Tips for Horse Owners

by Clayton McCook, DVM, MS, Founder Oklahoma Livestock First Responders
& Michele DeVinney Schmoll, Horse Evacuations East

The horse world is feeling the impact after mother nature continues pounding members of our community.

It began last month when an Oklahoma twister wiped out more than 200 horses. Raging wild fires struck Colorado this month and Alberta, Canada was hammered by unprecedented flooding this past week.

Flood waters mean other creatures will be trying to get to higher ground as well, including bugs. Be prepared for you and your horses.

So what can you do to protect your horses and other animals before natural disaster strikes? Start with a plan. A hurricane may give you time to evacuate, but in the case of a tornado, fire, flooding, or earthquake there might not be any warning.

Stock Up

When the gas stations are without power, they can’t sell you fuel. Do you have a generator? Generators run on gasoline or propane, so make sure they are fueled. If you have a well, a generator is a must so horses can get water.

Walkie-talkies are great to have in times of disaster as are paper maps of your state and surrounding states.

Staying Put?

Place placards on property fence gates informing firefighters that animals are being sheltered in place. Owners should also include their names and contact information. Also make sure your address is highly visible in times of disasters. Mailboxes and street signs may get lost during flooding or severe winds.

Emergency Contacts

Keep a paper list of emergency contacts and addresses in case you cannot power up your cellphone. Make sure your list includes Emergency Management, Animal Control, Veterinarian, USDA, Agriculture Department and other numbers you may need.

Team-up with a Neighbor or Horse Friends 

Develop a team plan with a neighbor(s). This may help in the joint use of resources such as a trailer and supplies. It also helps to outline a plan. Inform each other in the case of an evacuation. Working as a team, you will be better able to efficiently evacuate in a shorter amount of time.

Evacuation Centers

Make a list of all facilities in your state or surrounding states that will be open in time of a disaster that you can evacuate to if you don’t already have arrangements. Know different routes to get there in case your main and fastest route is blocked or congested.

Medical Records, Insurance Paperwork & Proof of Ownership

Have a folder of all your horses’ medical records including ownership paperwork. If you put all of your paperwork in a small portable file it can be quickly located and loaded in case of an emergency.

A horse runs for safety as fire spreads around nearby.If you need to travel over state lines you may also need Health Certificates. If your animals are micro chipped, branded or tattooed make sure you have this information and photos. Have a photo of each animal with a family member. This easy and quick idea is priceless to help prove ownership if your horse is displaced along with your Bill of Sale.

Vaccinations & Coggins

Core vaccines, like Tetanus and Encephalitis, are especially important during a disaster due to debris and potential flooding.

A current Coggins test is necessary to overnight at many evacuation facilities and to cross state lines.

Equine First Aid Kit & Meds

An equine first aid kit is essential for all horse owners to have in the barn or trailer – it is important it is enclosed in a water proof container. A general first aid kit that is routinely updated can be used for emergencies including wounds, colic, foot injuries, dehydration or other trauma and then be available for an evacuation in case of disaster. Make sure you have a sharpie in it, duct tape and a flashlight with back up batteries.

Clearly label all horse medication and keep it in an appropriate container so it can be quickly located and loaded.

After natural disasters there are hundreds of displaced animals and horses. The majority of these animals do not have any type of identification which makes finding their owners difficult. If you have lost or found a horse, call your local Humane Society and Stolen Horse International aka Netposse.com. In natural disasters NetPosse.com waives its listing fee.