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Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

Courtesy of LSU-LSART PartnershipWhen an emergency or natural disaster occurs, it is always in the best interest of the horses for both the equine practitioner and the horse owner to be prepared. Foreign animal disease outbreaks or other catastrophic events can adversely affect the health and well-being of horses. The preparation must be as thorough as possible knowing that circumstances will highlight the weaknesses rather than the strengths of those involved.

In today's world, the equine practitioner must prepare him or herself, family, the practice, and the clients for what to do in a disaster situation. The equine practitioner is uniquely qualified to understand and treat the injuries and stresses of horses in a disaster as well as understand the logistical factors associated with a rapid or planned evacuation of horses. Once the catastrophe strikes, the veterinarian will be seen as an important professional resource.

Important steps to consider in establishing a disaster and emergency response plan include:

  • Educating clients
  • Establishing a local response system
  • Transportation issues
  • Interaction with local and state government officials, including state veterinary organizations
  • Preparing for actual hands-on emergency rescue situations

Horse Owner Resources

National Resources:

National Hurricane Center
United States Animal Health Offices (State Veterinarians)
Canadian Animal Health Offices (Provincial Veterinarians)
Ready America
AVMA (Disaster Preparedness Info for Veterinarians)

USDA Resources:

USDA Animal Health Emergency Management
National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management
National Animal Health Surveillance System
Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center (Biodefense Reference Library)


Veterinary Response to Terror Alerts