Disaster & Cruelty

Tips for Safe Emergency Equine Evacuations

Wildfires were already burning in California by the end of April 2015, with some experts declaring California's wildfire season to be year-round. With drought conditions expected to continue across the entire West Coast and people still recovering from the devastating 2014 mudslides in Washington, it's crucial to have solid plans in place for the safe evacuation of horses during emergencies.

Owners and rescue groups must make preparation a top priority.  Here are five tips to remember – along with more information on what to do if these aren't feasible:

1. Plan

Decide where you will be sheltering your horse during the natural disaster and how you will get there, and then share that plan with everyone living in your home and anyone who may care for your horses in your absence. Make sure you have at least two routes to get to your evacuation site in case of road closures. Plan to begin transport as soon as authorities issue an evacuation of your area, if not before.

2. Prepare

Put together an evacuation kit for your horse that includes a checklist of what tack you will need to bring with you, paperwork proving your ownership and health of your horse (branding papers, microchip papers, photographs, veterinary records, Coggins test) and an emergency first aid kit. Consider teaming up with a neighbor for evacuation; pooling resources such as a trailers and supplies may make the process more efficient.

4. Teach

Teach your horse to load in your trailer under calm conditions, since you want him to be on autopilot in an emergency situation. Ideally you will practice loading your horse into the trailer in which you plan to evacuate him – and make sure your evacuation trailer has room for all your horses. Once inside the trailer, tie your horse or horses, to keep them from hurting themselves or others during transport.

5. Provide

Take at least one bale of hay and a bucket for water – more if you have multiple horses – as well as any special foods for senior and special-needs horses. You may not have immediate access to hay and buckets wherever you are sheltering your horse.

More Lifesaving Resources

Visit the ASPCA Equine Fund section to read more helpful information and learn about equine-focused workshops, webinars and grants