Prior to hurricane season:
- Make a plan: are you going to evacuate with your horse? If so, where? Have your trailer inspected and make sure it’s safe for travel. If not, think of ways to safely house your horse during the storm.
- Have a current Coggins- most states waive health certificate rules during hurricane evacuations. However, you will need a Coggins to transport your horse home or to keep your evacuated horse at a boarding facility.
- Update EEE/WEE/WNV/Tetanus/Rabies vaccines: typically, we see increased mosquito numbers following hurricanes. Update your vaccines prior to hurricane season so your horse has protective levels throughout the season.
- Consider microchipping your horse. Microchipping is a safe, inexpensive and easy way to permanently identify your horse.
Preparing for an impending hurricane:
- Have TWO forms of identification: (1) Permanent identification (microchip, tattoo, brand, etc.), and (2) Waterproof type of tag attached to the horse. Place your name, address, and phone number (additional number of someone out of state is the best in the event of phone outages) legibly on the tags.
- Examples of waterproof type of tag:
- A leather halter with name/farm information in a zip lock bag secured to the halter with duct tape.
- A luggage tag with horse name, owner name and phone number braided into mane and tail. Make sure this is waterproof.
- Photos of each horse as proof of ownership highlighting obvious identifying marks.
- Other identification tools are fetlock tags, paint stick or non-toxic spray paint.
- Be sure to store all identification records (microchip, Coggins form) in an easily accessible location. Additionally, consider sending a copy to a family member/friend in a distant location.
- Start early to clean up your property and secure/remove all debris that may be tossed around by the storm and hurricane-force winds.
- Prepare a waterproof emergency animal care kit with all items you normally use (see end section of emergency kit supplies). Place the kit in a safe place where you can easily access it after a storm.
If you plan to evacuate:
Have a destination and route(s) mapped out well in advance. It is important to evacuate your horses a sufficient distance from the coast. Arrange to leave AT A MINIMUM of 72 hours before the arrival of the storm. The worst thing that can happen is to be stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching. Provide your neighbors/friends/family with your evacuation contact information.
If you plan to stay:
- 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 likelihood of property and structure to flood.
- If the pasture has good fencing and limited trees, it is probably best to leave the horses outside.
- Farms subject to storm surge should turn their horses out so horses are not trapped.
- Keep horses out of pastures with power lines.
- Do not keep horses in barbed wire or electrical fencing during a storm.
- Fire ants and snakes will search for higher ground during flooding. Carefully look over the premises for these potential dangers.
- Fly masks can be used to protect the eyes from flying debris. Just make sure that the fly mask will break away easily if the horse gets caught on something.
- Remove all items from barn aisle and walls and store them in a safe place.
- Have at least 2-3 week supply of hay (wrapped in plastic or waterproof tarp) and feed (secured in watertight containers).
- Place feed supplies in the highest (out of reach of floodwaters) and driest area possible.
- Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water, secure tops, and place them in a barn for use after the storm. Each horse should have 12-20 gallons per day stored.
- Have an emergency barn kit containing chain saw & fuel, saw, fencing material, etc. Place kit in a secure area before storm hits.
- Have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries and other non-perishable items.
After the Storm:
- Evaluate your horse: typical complications after a hurricane are injuries (cuts, lacerations, eye ulcers), colic/dehydration and respiratory issues. If you notice any significant signs, contact your veterinarian.
- Start to clean up and remove debris. Walk fields looking for down fencing and toxic plants. Be careful of down power lines.
- If your horse is missing, contact the local animal control or disaster response team.
What to keep in your emergency first aid kit:
- Bandages (leg wraps & quilts)
- Antiseptics (betadine, iodine, etc.)
- Topical antibiotic ointment
- Pain Relievers (bute or Banamine)
- Flashlight w/ extra batteries
- Extra halters/lead ropes
- Clean towels
- Fly spray
For more information contact Bayside Veterinary Services.