Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness for Horses
Lori Hemings Kovacs, owner of Palm City Horse and Hound Supply, hosted a talk by Dr. Karie Vander Werf, DVM of Treasure Coast Equine Emergency Service. Horse owners turned out to learn tips to prepare for the hurricane season. Ashley Villerosi, barn manager and Bobbi Martin, board member, represented the Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation in Palm City. With a population of around 36 horses, being prepared for a hurricane will be a big job for the crew and volunteers.
Important tips include:
- Make sure all vaccinations and Coggins are up to date.
- Organize a Neighborhood Disaster Committee. Horse owners usually live in horse communities; assessing the group’s resources can be very helpful.
- Animal Identification. Finding your horse after a storm can be traumatic but there are multiple ways to identify your horse including: take a photo of your horse with a family member; purchase fetlock ID bands; use a breakaway halter with a luggage tag with pertinent information, unless flooding is likely; braid a luggage tag into your horse’s mane or tail hair; spray paint or use cattle grease paint to write your phone number on both sides of the horse’s body; use Freeze Branding or micro chipping for permanent options. Do not put a copy of your Coggins test on your horse as this is a passport out of state and may be used by a dishonest person.
- Evacuation: Plan your destinations and routes well in advance and leave 48 hours before the storm. You can find a number of hurricane shelter stable options online and through stalldestinations.com
- Feed and Water: Have two weeks supply of hay, wrapped in plastic or a waterproof tarp and feed stored in plastic watertight containers and 15-20 gallons of water per horse per day.
Follow available guidelines for preparing your property for a hurricane. In a Class I or II storm, your horses will be safer in a strong, secure barn or stable. In a Class III or IV storm, your horses may be safest outside if you have plenty of room for them to move around, your fences are strong and won’t collect debris that will knock them over and there are no overhead power lines in your pasture.
Use two plywood boards as message boards. On one side paint, “HAVE ANIMALS, AM OK, and “HAVE ANIMALS, NEED HELP” on the other and post them in high visibility locations. Create an emergency animal care kit (waterproof) and an emergency barn kit with a chain saw, fuel, hammers, saw, nails, screws and fencing material. Let your neighbors know where you will be during the storm. Turn off all circuit breakers to the barn before leaving. Don’t stay in the barn with your horse during the storm and be sure to place a supply of hay and water with each horse.
For more information contact the Treasure Coast Equine Emergency Services at 561-510-5038, Horse and Hound Supply at 772-223-1333 or Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation at 772 -220-0150.