Sunday, September 9, 2012

Prepare For Disaster With Large Animals - Part II

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to include them in your disaster preparations.  The following information provided is aimed towards horses; however, many of the basic principles can be applied to other animals as well. 

All the animals should have some form of identification.  Tattoos, brands, and microchips cannot be lost.  They can help you prove ownership if you are separated from your livestock.  Keep photos that highlight identifying marks and copies of registration papers and ownership records with you at all times in a waterproof bag.  In addition, provide a temporary ID on the animal that is easy to spot and includes a contact phone number with area code.  It will allow anyone to contact you.  Some options for temporary identification are: use a livestock crayon and write your name, and phone number on the animal; use clippers to shave the same information in its coat; or to attach a band or tag with the necessary information written in waterproof ink to either its halter or by braiding it into tail or mane.  In addition, be sure to post emergency contact numbers at your barn and/or on your pasture fence.

Ensure that whether you stay or go that there is adequate food and water available.  Have enough feed and hay to last at least three (3) days.  A week is better.  Store it in dry, protected areas.  Dehydration is a major cause of death for animals in any disaster.  For horses, calculate a minimum of 12 gallons per horse per day and again, store enough for a minimum of three (3) days.  If necessary, add chlorine bleach at two drops per quart of water to purify if necessary.

Prepare an emergency/ first aid kit.  Extra halters and leads, first-aid supplies, and flashlights are especially important.  Check with your veterinarian to find out what he/she recommends you include as first-aid supplies.  If any animal is on long-term medication, keep at least a two (2) week supply available.  Keep copies of medical records including history of vaccinations with the kit.

Evacuate your animals whenever possible.  Advance planning designates where they will go.  Create a list of friends, relatives, etc. who would be willing to board them.  Familiarize yourself with organizations in the area that are prepared to rescue and shelter during a disaster.  Temporary housing might include, boarding stables, veterinarians, and fairgrounds.  Map out alternate evacuation routes in advance, in case certain roads are blocked.

Have sufficient vehicles and trailers available for transporting your animals or know where to obtain them quickly.  Train to load.  A panic situation is not the time to teach or learn this skill.  In emergencies, animals that load easily are evacuated first. Unfortunately those that do not are left behind.  In addition, access roads may be blocked and you might have to meet at a central collection point that trailers can reach, therefore, plan alternative ways to get the animals off the property.  

If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.  In many cases, livestock will be safer in a pasture than in a barn that could collapse or burn.  If you will be leaving the property for your own safety, try to make sure that there is easy access to clean water and forage.  It may be days before you return.  In the case of horses, if you leave the halter on to facilitate catching them later; be sure to use a breakaway style.  Other types can snag on branches, etc. and trap the horse.

As a final note, catastrophes affect both humans and animals.  Animals can become fearful and, as a result, difficult to control and highly unpredictable during a disaster.  Therefore, whether you own one small animal or a herd of large horses, your safety is paramount.  You cannot help them survive if you are injured.

Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself and your animal in the event of any emergency is to plan before disaster strikes.


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