Appropriate organization of a rescue effort from a disaster needs to be well planned and integrated into the effort directed at humans. Preferably the plans and protocol for a rescue effort have been made in advance and involve volunteers well trained in the Incident Command System (ICS). Because ICS has been well covered elsewhere it will not be discussed in detail. These proceedings will cover areas of organization and execution of a rescue effort unique to horses and other livestock species. Additionally the author’s experiences as a volunteer during the rescue effort in Texas following Hurricane Rita will be reviewed briefly.

Since Hurricane Andrew devastated Dade county in 1982 an awareness has developed for a need to develop a plan to prepare for and cope with natural disasters. In the early 1980s the AVMA and federal government developed small teams of veterinarians (VMATs) to assist with rescue efforts when the local infrastructure was overwhelmed. Hurricane Katrina caused livestock losses in excess of $1,000,000 to the poultry and beef industry along the Gulf Coast. Prior to Hurricane Rita over 10,000 head of livestock were evacuated. After the storms of the Gulf Coast in 2005, the success and failures of the plans developed and executed have been well publicized in both the print media and scientific journals. In order to successfully provide a rescue effort to horses and other livestock, several areas of organization must be identified. These include: triage, shelter, identification and processing, biosecurity, patient monitoring, feeding and manure removal, and discharge.

Triage

            The initial evaluation of any horse begins with a general overview. Severe lameness may indicate a serious musculoskeletal injury. Recumbency may be an indication of severe pain, neurologic status, or exhaustion. After a general overview attention should be directed at the TPR, and upper respiratory lymph nodes. High fevers or swollen lymph nodes may indicate a contagious bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus equi (Strangles). Assuming the horse is ambulatory and has a normal rectal temperature (37.5 – 38.5 C), heart rate (32 – 48 bpm) and respiratory pattern (12-20 bpm) it is unlikely to have any life threatening condition. If a horse is suspected of having some traumatic musculoskeletal the area of the injury should be identified by physical exam. A thick bandage should be placed just proximal to the joint above the injured area to the ground. The injury can be stabilized with a splint incorporating the joint above the injury to the ground.  

After a field evaluation of a horse attention should then be directed at the surrounding area. Are there fences? Is there clean water? Is there pasture or source of hay? Are there any potential problems in the environment? Because space and personnel are often limited, it may be preferable to manage animals in the field. If the fences and facilities where the horse is found are sufficient and there is no immediate danger the horse can be fed and watered in the field. The address or GPS coordinates can be logged and the animals can be evaluated weekly or more frequently if necessary. Leaving a horse where discovered may also increase the odds of successful reunion with the owner. If the fencing is inadequate, the horse is roaming free, there are deteriorating conditions or the horse needs medical care moving them to the rescue area is appropriate. 

In some cases a lariat will have to be used to catch the horse, although orange snow netting makes a light, portable fence to “corral” any loose animals. Use of other horses or feed to “lure” horses into smaller areas will facilitate capture. The cases seen are routine and commonly include things such as: lacerations, ophthalmic injuries, colic, and foreign bodies. Heat stroke, dehydration, and exhaustion may also be a concern. 

Although formal training from an equine rescue course can be invaluable, most disasters do not have dramatic rescues. A truck and trailer is necessary to transport horses from the field to the rescue center or to referral centers. If planned in advance transport can be arranged with transportation companies, horse associations, riding clubs, local ranches, and private individuals. If moving horses and other livestock across state lines, some agreement must be reached with the state on the handling of animals with out the proper testing or documentation.  

Shelter

Proper shelter is difficult to find when dealing with potentially hundreds of horses. An understanding of behavior is necessary as horses must be combined in small pens due to a limited amount of space, stalls, or fencing material. In the rescue center combine horses found together into the same pen. Placing horses unfamiliar with each other may lead to aggressive behavior to establish dominance. Horses found together have often established a bond and separation may cause unnecessary agitation. Horses found together are frequently from the same owner and keeping them together may assist in reunification. Do not combine stallions and mares or place in adjoining pens, and separate aggressive horses into individual pens

Creativity and flexibility are necessary when working with a finite amount of personnel and supplies versus an unknown number of horses. Different types of materials can be used for fencing. Identification of preformed facilities (livestock auctions, fair grounds, stables, race tracks, rodeo arenas, ranches, universities, and private individuals) is also helpful when planning for housing of horses during an emergency. Tarps and other solid covering can be used to make less sturdy fences look solid. Snow netting can be used as temporary fencing.

Sufficient space must be provided for the horses to lie down. At least 50% of the horses held in Ford Arena spent 70% of the first two days lying down. Although initially concerned about possible GI pain, eventually we realized the horses were exhausted. Enough area needs to be provided in each stall for the horses to lay lateral and not become entangled in the fence. Material for bedding can be adapted to what is available. Commonly used material includes sand, shavings, straw, hay, and shredded paper.

Identification and Processing

An important part of admission is developing an identification and processing system. A protocol should be developed prior to a disaster and adapted to the current situation in cooperation with local animal control, law enforcement and state regulations. Many possibilities of identification exist and include: microchipping, glue on auction tags, paint sticks, spray paint on the hair or hooves, neck bands, halter tags and shaving numbers into the coat. Regardless of the method used for identification, a file containing information on the where the horse was found, any known or suspected owners, sex, estimated age, color, body condition score and any abnormalities on a good physical exam should be collected. A photograph of the horse should be taken and included with the file. 

As most horses have no vaccination history, a complete series should be given at admission consisting of intranasal modified live Streptococcus equi, and intramsucular Eastern Encephalitis, Western Encephalitis, Tetanus toxoid, and Rabies. Although incomplete in their protection, Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes virus could also be considered. Depending on the area and time of year other vaccines, such as West Nile virus, should be included. Deworming is also important and a dose of oral Ivermectin or Fenbendazole paste can be given at admission. Additionally a Coggins test for Equine Infectious Anemia should be submitted. Any medications given and the results of any tests should be included in the file.

All horses admitted should receive some level of triage in the field and the rescue facility. Common problems seen are discussed below in the patient monitoring and care. Any horse needing emergency or advanced care should receive it before initiating the processing protocol. A suggested protocol for large animals in the field and rescue facility can be found at the conclusion of these proceedings.

Biosecurity

The best tool for management is strict attention to the biosecurity of the rescue facility. Monitoring rectal temperatures daily, setting up and managing an isolation ward, and cleaning/disinfecting feed buckets, water buckets, stalls, and halters are all necessary parts of maintaining a facility. Use of gloves and other barriers when necessary is also critical. With a short term facility (<2 weeks) the biggest concern is likely Streptococcus equi (strangles). Any horse with swelling in the submandibular or retropharyngeal area should be isolated, as should any horse with an unexplained fever. Intranasal vaccination with modified live bacteria on entrance to the facility should also reduce the risk outbreaks. With long term care (> 2 weeks) the potential to see viral respiratory disease is increased. Many standard texts offer excellent discussion on care and prevention of the diseases mentioned here. A major source of disease spread are volunteers in the equine facility, volunteers in other areas and support personnel who “visit” the horses. While likely providing some anxiety relief to volunteers, precautions should be taken to prevent disease spread and/or injury by these visitors. 

Patient Care and Monitoring

Most of the patients handled in a rescue center will be dogs and cats. However any rescue volunteer should not be surprised to see horses, camelids, emu, sheep, goats, or other livestock species. While providing basic care and monitoring it should be remembered that volunteers in a disaster may have limited experience working with horses, and every precaution should be taken to insure the safety of the personnel and the animals by stressing basic equine handling. 

Developing a plan on how the horses will be monitored and educating volunteers about what to watch for can make a difference in identifying problems early. In addition to appetite, attitude, and rectal temperature, the amount and consistency of fecal output should be noted when cleaning the stalls or pens daily. Any change in the daily monitoring necessitates the need for a more detailed examination.

The larger species require different supplies and larger volumes of drugs. An example of equipment needed to manage horses can be found at the end of these proceedings. Some method of safe guarding the medications is necessary, especially if any controlled drugs (Beuthanaisa) are included. Space to store much volume is limited. Restocking supplies every 3-5 days from a central warehouse would be useful. Supplies can be stockpiled in advance or donors can be identified. Possible donors would include pharmaceutical companies, local veterinary clinics, and non-profit organizations. However, the equipment and personnel desired may not always be available and a rescue volunteer must be creative in therapy and able to adapt to using small animal supplies. In cases where the level of care exceeds that of the rescue center, a practice should be identified to handle any referrals. 

Feeding and Manure Removal

In addition to providing shelter and basic care the horses must be fed and watered. A 1000 pound horse needs approximately 16 pounds of dry matter (16,000 calories) to maintain body weight with a low level of exercise. This equates to almost 20 pounds of hay per horse per day. For most practical situations, feeding as much hay as will be eaten will provide enough calories. Horses with poor body condition scores can be supplemented with up to 6 pounds of pelleted feed (~7000 calories). When introducing grain to a horse, one should proceed slowly increasing the amount fed 0.5 – 1.0 pounds/day every couple of days. The true caloric requirement depends on the activity level and the caloric density depends on the weight of the hay and type of grain being fed. Some plan for acquiring hay or alfalfa needs to be in place prior to a disaster. Some places to consider include: Feed stores, hay brokers, veterinary clinics, local stables and ranches. If a horse is unable to eat hay, a complete alfalfa based pellet can be fed to meet the 16 pounds of necessary dry matter. 

Depending on the diet a single horse will drink 5-10 gallons of water daily. If the environment is especially hot or humid water consumption will exceed 10 gallons per day. As water is difficult to haul, multiple water hoses should be included as part of the supplies at the rescue area to be able to fill up containers as close to the horse as possible. Containers to hold water can be any shape or size. Creativity is often necessary to use materials on hand to provide water to all the horses.

Manure disposal is also a concern. Some type of bucket/container/wheel barrow and a fork or shovel needs to be included in the list of supplies. A tarp works well and can be drug from stall to stall and then hauled to dump the manure. A place away from the sleeping area with low human or animal traffic needs to be selected to dump the manure. Although hauling offsite is preferred, this may be difficult to accomplish. The stall areas should be cleaned several times daily to cut down on flies and make sure there is clean ground for the horses to lie down. 

Discharge

A plan should be in place for discharge of horses to their owners. It was reported that after hurricane Andrew in 1982, horses were collected and sold to slaughter by private individuals. To try and successfully unite horses with their true owners or find horses discharged incorrectly, precautions should be taken. A photograph can be taken. of the owner with the horse in front of the vehicle or trailer A driver’s license number or other identification can be recorded. A mandatory microchipping requirement in Louisiana greatly facilitated the identification of the owner of over 80% of the horses displaced this past year. However, despite the best intentions it is likely impossible to correctly reunite every horse with their owner.

Finally a plan should be developed for horses that must be fostered due to property loss and horses that remain unclaimed. There is no single answer to this issue, and it needs to be addressed based on the laws in each region. One suggestion is to provide volunteer foster care for one year, with the foster home covering all expenses with no expectation of reimbursement. At the end of the year if the owner has not been found or is still unable to claim the horse, the foster owner would assume full ownership. However many legal and liability issues must be considered when developing any sort of plan. The only horse not reunited with the owner at the conclusion of the rescue effort in Texas was taken to the humane shelter. However the potential for hundreds of horses would limit this to a last choice scenario.

Experience at Ford Arena 

Receiving permission to volunteer in the rescue effort at Ford Arena required persistence. Initially I was told that my services were not needed, but after several horses began to be held at the arena, I was allowed to participate. Although I was not involved in the development of the plan, having completing training in the Incident Command System was useful in understanding my role in the rescue effort.

The southeast area of Texas was under curfew with all work stopping at 5 pm. I was expecting limited access to showers, laundry, food and shelter. I was prepared to feed myself and sleep in a tent. Upon arrival at Ford Arena I discovered that the animal rescue was a small corner of a large operation. Most of the space was dedicated to volunteers serving the local community. The level of planning and cooperation was amazing.

Over 1000 people were involved in the rescue effort. Three different volunteer groups provided hot showers. The Baptist Men cooked breakfast and dinner every day and served it in a Salvation Army trailer. There was a 24 hour laundry service, internet access, and an ATM. Hundreds of volunteer EMS and firefighters from around the country operated multiple ambulances. There was an emergency room for triage and referral to Houston hospitals if necessary. Most of the facility was staffed with volunteers from the National Guard, Salvation Army, and small volunteer groups. The Army Corps of Engineers setup and maintained generators to power the camp. Many of the volunteers in the camp slept in tents. Most of the volunteers in the animal area slept in RVs which they had driven. Fuel for the field agents was provided by FEMA.

The days were hot, but the work was enjoyable. My time was divided between caring for the large animals and helping with the processing of small animals. I assisted in some field evaluations with humane society officers from around the country who were volunteering. The amount of destruction was depressing as were the large number of animals that had been left behind. As a first-time volunteer I found that 7-10 days would test my limits before needing a break. The rescue center was dismantled after 9 days when the local shelter was restored and power was returned to much of the local community allowing local veterinarians to once again care for animals.

Volunteering during the rescue effort was a unique and worthwhile endeavor because it was well planned and executed. Useful information can be gained by sharing the positive and the negative experiences of veterinary rescue operations. Including equine and other livestock is a critical component of any disaster plan, as they require unique housing, management, and medical considerations. 

Protocol for Large Animal

FIELD EVALUATIONS – ALL SPECIES

  1. Triage/General Exam – Address any immediate needs
  2. Evaluate Fencing – Repair if feasible
  3. Evaluate Food/Water/Shelter – Feed or water in field if possible
  4. Contact any neighbors or owners
  5. Decide whether to manage in the field or move to rescue center 
    1. If fencing is adequate with shelter and no immediate care is needed, leave hay and water with 5-10 gallons/animal or 0.5 – 1 gallon per small ruminant. Recheck 48 hours.
    2. If fencing not adequate or care is needed, treat/stabilize and transport to rescue center.

RESCUE CENTER PROTOCOL – HORSES

       Processing

  1. Triage and treat any critical needs
  2. Physical exam – If draining any purulent material from head or nose – ISOLATE
  3. Document age, sex, markings, scars,  pre-existing problems and area where found
  4. Pregnancy check if impending parturition may be a concern
  5. Vaccinate 1 ml WNV and 1 ml EWT left neck in two different spots
  6. Vaccinate 2 ml Rabies right neck
  7. Deworm with 20 grams Panacur/1000 pounds
  8. EIA test – Coggins Form and Red Top Tube
  9. Scan first, then Microchip left nucal ligament mid neck
  10. Record findings on entry form.

        Daily Care

  1. Provide free choice water – can share troughs across fence
  2. Provide free choice hay – minimum per horse = 16 pounds per day
  3. Provide grain when necessary – skinny, old, dental problems. Introduce slowly
  4. Provide shelter with enough room to lie down and not get cast
  5. Provide compatible stall mates and neighbors if space is a problem. 
  6. Monitor fecal output, attitude, and feed intake. Any abnormality should prompt physical exam.
  7. Rectal temps daily if respiratory disease (STRANGLES) is a concern.

RESCUE CENTER PROTOCOL – SMALL RUMINANTS

       Processing

  1. Triage and treat any critical needs
  2. Physical Exam –
    1.  pay particular attention to color of sclera and mucus membranes and rumen motility
    1. Monitor for any enlarged or draining lymph nodes – ISOLATE
  3. Document age, sex, markings, scars,  pre-existing problems and area where found           
  4. Vaccinate 2 ml Rabies vaccine
  5. Deworm Ivermectin 1 ml (2%) / 25 pounds
  6. Deworm panacur 5X horse dose
  7. Scan first the microchip over withers
  8. Record findings on entry form.

        Daily Care

1. Monitor male goats for any tail wagging, straining, vocalizing, or urethral obstruction

            2. Provide space to stand/lay down/move around – Large Dog Cage

            3. Provide fresh water

            4. Provide bedding

            5. Provide free choice hay and fresh grass

            6. Limit carbohydrate intake

Supplies

This list is intended to supplement routine supplies available for small animals and is not exhaustive of all that is needed for large animals

Coggins forms

Vacutainer needles

Red top serum tubes

35 and 60 cc syringes

20 g 1.5 inch needles

Vaccines

Detomidine

Injectable Banamine

Oral Phenylbutazone

Antibiotics

            Oxytet

            Penicillin

            Gentocin

            Trimet/Sulfa

Eye Meds

            Atropine

            Doxycycline

            Terramycin

Lidocaine

Ivermectin

Fenbendazole

Vicks Vabor Rub

Skin stapler

Suture kits

Vet wrap

4 “ bandage material

36–48 “ cotton wraps

White 1 inch tape

Duct tape

Kimzey splints

Long penrose drains

Polo wraps

Diapers

Wound ointments

Vasoline

Fly spray

Farrier supplies

Nose twitch

Nasogastric tube

Mineral oil

5 gallon buckets

Stomach pump

3-5 liter IV bags

Large IV sets

1 liter saline solutions

Hand bulb pumps

14 g 5.25 “ catheters

Rectal lube

Rectal sleeves

Fencing panels

Snow netting/fencing

Tarps

Long extension cords

Multiple water hoses

Braided rope

Wire

Pliers

Manure picker

Muck buckets

Wheel barrow

Feed scoops

Water troughs

Bleach

Other disinfectants

Neck ID bands

Halters

Lead ropes

Lariat

Zip ties

Dart Gun

References Available Upon Request

Since Hurricane Andrew devastated Dade county in 1982 an awareness has developed for a need to develop a plan to prepare for and cope with natural disasters. In the early 1980s the AVMA and federal government developed small teams of veterinarians (VMATs) to assist with rescue efforts when the local infrastructure was overwhelmed. Hurricane Katrina caused livestock losses in excess of $1,000,000 to the poultry and beef industry along the Gulf Coast. Prior to Hurricane Rita over 10,000 head of livestock were evacuated. After the storms of the Gulf Coast in 2005, the success and failures of the plans developed and executed have been well publicized in both the print media and scientific journals. In order to successfully provide a rescue effort to horses and other livestock, several areas of organization must be identified. These include: triage, shelter, identification and processing, biosecurity, patient monitoring, feeding and manure removal, and discharge.

Triage

            The initial evaluation of any horse begins with a general overview. Severe lameness may indicate a serious musculoskeletal injury. Recumbency may be an indication of severe pain, neurologic status, or exhaustion. After a general overview attention should be directed at the TPR, and upper respiratory lymph nodes. High fevers or swollen lymph nodes may indicate a contagious bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus equi (Strangles). Assuming the horse is ambulatory and has a normal rectal temperature (37.5 – 38.5 C), heart rate (32 – 48 bpm) and respiratory pattern (12-20 bpm) it is unlikely to have any life threatening condition. If a horse is suspected of having some traumatic musculoskeletal the area of the injury should be identified by physical exam. A thick bandage should be placed just proximal to the joint above the injured area to the ground. The injury can be stabilized with a splint incorporating the joint above the injury to the ground.  

After a field evaluation of a horse attention should then be directed at the surrounding area. Are there fences? Is there clean water? Is there pasture or source of hay? Are there any potential problems in the environment? Because space and personnel are often limited, it may be preferable to manage animals in the field. If the fences and facilities where the horse is found are sufficient and there is no immediate danger the horse can be fed and watered in the field. The address or GPS coordinates can be logged and the animals can be evaluated weekly or more frequently if necessary. Leaving a horse where discovered may also increase the odds of successful reunion with the owner. If the fencing is inadequate, the horse is roaming free, there are deteriorating conditions or the horse needs medical care moving them to the rescue area is appropriate. 

In some cases a lariat will have to be used to catch the horse, although orange snow netting makes a light, portable fence to “corral” any loose animals. Use of other horses or feed to “lure” horses into smaller areas will facilitate capture. The cases seen are routine and commonly include things such as: lacerations, ophthalmic injuries, colic, and foreign bodies. Heat stroke, dehydration, and exhaustion may also be a concern. 

Although formal training from an equine rescue course can be invaluable, most disasters do not have dramatic rescues. A truck and trailer is necessary to transport horses from the field to the rescue center or to referral centers. If planned in advance transport can be arranged with transportation companies, horse associations, riding clubs, local ranches, and private individuals. If moving horses and other livestock across state lines, some agreement must be reached with the state on the handling of animals with out the proper testing or documentation.  

Shelter

Proper shelter is difficult to find when dealing with potentially hundreds of horses. An understanding of behavior is necessary as horses must be combined in small pens due to a limited amount of space, stalls, or fencing material. In the rescue center combine horses found together into the same pen. Placing horses unfamiliar with each other may lead to aggressive behavior to establish dominance. Horses found together have often established a bond and separation may cause unnecessary agitation. Horses found together are frequently from the same owner and keeping them together may assist in reunification. Do not combine stallions and mares or place in adjoining pens, and separate aggressive horses into individual pens

Creativity and flexibility are necessary when working with a finite amount of personnel and supplies versus an unknown number of horses. Different types of materials can be used for fencing. Identification of preformed facilities (livestock auctions, fair grounds, stables, race tracks, rodeo arenas, ranches, universities, and private individuals) is also helpful when planning for housing of horses during an emergency. Tarps and other solid covering can be used to make less sturdy fences look solid. Snow netting can be used as temporary fencing.

Sufficient space must be provided for the horses to lie down. At least 50% of the horses held in Ford Arena spent 70% of the first two days lying down. Although initially concerned about possible GI pain, eventually we realized the horses were exhausted. Enough area needs to be provided in each stall for the horses to lay lateral and not become entangled in the fence. Material for bedding can be adapted to what is available. Commonly used material includes sand, shavings, straw, hay, and shredded paper.

Identification and Processing

An important part of admission is developing an identification and processing system. A protocol should be developed prior to a disaster and adapted to the current situation in cooperation with local animal control, law enforcement and state regulations. Many possibilities of identification exist and include: microchipping, glue on auction tags, paint sticks, spray paint on the hair or hooves, neck bands, halter tags and shaving numbers into the coat. Regardless of the method used for identification, a file containing information on the where the horse was found, any known or suspected owners, sex, estimated age, color, body condition score and any abnormalities on a good physical exam should be collected. A photograph of the horse should be taken and included with the file. 

As most horses have no vaccination history, a complete series should be given at admission consisting of intranasal modified live Streptococcus equi, and intramsucular Eastern Encephalitis, Western Encephalitis, Tetanus toxoid, and Rabies. Although incomplete in their protection, Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes virus could also be considered. Depending on the area and time of year other vaccines, such as West Nile virus, should be included. Deworming is also important and a dose of oral Ivermectin or Fenbendazole paste can be given at admission. Additionally a Coggins test for Equine Infectious Anemia should be submitted. Any medications given and the results of any tests should be included in the file.

All horses admitted should receive some level of triage in the field and the rescue facility. Common problems seen are discussed below in the patient monitoring and care. Any horse needing emergency or advanced care should receive it before initiating the processing protocol. A suggested protocol for large animals in the field and rescue facility can be found at the conclusion of these proceedings.

Biosecurity

The best tool for management is strict attention to the biosecurity of the rescue facility. Monitoring rectal temperatures daily, setting up and managing an isolation ward, and cleaning/disinfecting feed buckets, water buckets, stalls, and halters are all necessary parts of maintaining a facility. Use of gloves and other barriers when necessary is also critical. With a short term facility (<2 weeks) the biggest concern is likely Streptococcus equi (strangles). Any horse with swelling in the submandibular or retropharyngeal area should be isolated, as should any horse with an unexplained fever. Intranasal vaccination with modified live bacteria on entrance to the facility should also reduce the risk outbreaks. With long term care (> 2 weeks) the potential to see viral respiratory disease is increased. Many standard texts offer excellent discussion on care and prevention of the diseases mentioned here. A major source of disease spread are volunteers in the equine facility, volunteers in other areas and support personnel who “visit” the horses. While likely providing some anxiety relief to volunteers, precautions should be taken to prevent disease spread and/or injury by these visitors. 

Patient Care and Monitoring

Most of the patients handled in a rescue center will be dogs and cats. However any rescue volunteer should not be surprised to see horses, camelids, emu, sheep, goats, or other livestock species. While providing basic care and monitoring it should be remembered that volunteers in a disaster may have limited experience working with horses, and every precaution should be taken to insure the safety of the personnel and the animals by stressing basic equine handling. 

Developing a plan on how the horses will be monitored and educating volunteers about what to watch for can make a difference in identifying problems early. In addition to appetite, attitude, and rectal temperature, the amount and consistency of fecal output should be noted when cleaning the stalls or pens daily. Any change in the daily monitoring necessitates the need for a more detailed examination.

The larger species require different supplies and larger volumes of drugs. An example of equipment needed to manage horses can be found at the end of these proceedings. Some method of safe guarding the medications is necessary, especially if any controlled drugs (Beuthanaisa) are included. Space to store much volume is limited. Restocking supplies every 3-5 days from a central warehouse would be useful. Supplies can be stockpiled in advance or donors can be identified. Possible donors would include pharmaceutical companies, local veterinary clinics, and non-profit organizations. However, the equipment and personnel desired may not always be available and a rescue volunteer must be creative in therapy and able to adapt to using small animal supplies. In cases where the level of care exceeds that of the rescue center, a practice should be identified to handle any referrals. 

Feeding and Manure Removal

In addition to providing shelter and basic care the horses must be fed and watered. A 1000 pound horse needs approximately 16 pounds of dry matter (16,000 calories) to maintain body weight with a low level of exercise. This equates to almost 20 pounds of hay per horse per day. For most practical situations, feeding as much hay as will be eaten will provide enough calories. Horses with poor body condition scores can be supplemented with up to 6 pounds of pelleted feed (~7000 calories). When introducing grain to a horse, one should proceed slowly increasing the amount fed 0.5 – 1.0 pounds/day every couple of days. The true caloric requirement depends on the activity level and the caloric density depends on the weight of the hay and type of grain being fed. Some plan for acquiring hay or alfalfa needs to be in place prior to a disaster. Some places to consider include: Feed stores, hay brokers, veterinary clinics, local stables and ranches. If a horse is unable to eat hay, a complete alfalfa based pellet can be fed to meet the 16 pounds of necessary dry matter. 

Depending on the diet a single horse will drink 5-10 gallons of water daily. If the environment is especially hot or humid water consumption will exceed 10 gallons per day. As water is difficult to haul, multiple water hoses should be included as part of the supplies at the rescue area to be able to fill up containers as close to the horse as possible. Containers to hold water can be any shape or size. Creativity is often necessary to use materials on hand to provide water to all the horses.

Manure disposal is also a concern. Some type of bucket/container/wheel barrow and a fork or shovel needs to be included in the list of supplies. A tarp works well and can be drug from stall to stall and then hauled to dump the manure. A place away from the sleeping area with low human or animal traffic needs to be selected to dump the manure. Although hauling offsite is preferred, this may be difficult to accomplish. The stall areas should be cleaned several times daily to cut down on flies and make sure there is clean ground for the horses to lie down. 

Discharge

A plan should be in place for discharge of horses to their owners. It was reported that after hurricane Andrew in 1982, horses were collected and sold to slaughter by private individuals. To try and successfully unite horses with their true owners or find horses discharged incorrectly, precautions should be taken. A photograph can be taken. of the owner with the horse in front of the vehicle or trailer A driver’s license number or other identification can be recorded. A mandatory microchipping requirement in Louisiana greatly facilitated the identification of the owner of over 80% of the horses displaced this past year. However, despite the best intentions it is likely impossible to correctly reunite every horse with their owner.

Finally a plan should be developed for horses that must be fostered due to property loss and horses that remain unclaimed. There is no single answer to this issue, and it needs to be addressed based on the laws in each region. One suggestion is to provide volunteer foster care for one year, with the foster home covering all expenses with no expectation of reimbursement. At the end of the year if the owner has not been found or is still unable to claim the horse, the foster owner would assume full ownership. However many legal and liability issues must be considered when developing any sort of plan. The only horse not reunited with the owner at the conclusion of the rescue effort in Texas was taken to the humane shelter. However the potential for hundreds of horses would limit this to a last choice scenario.

Experience at Ford Arena 

Receiving permission to volunteer in the rescue effort at Ford Arena required persistence. Initially I was told that my services were not needed, but after several horses began to be held at the arena, I was allowed to participate. Although I was not involved in the development of the plan, having completing training in the Incident Command System was useful in understanding my role in the rescue effort.

The southeast area of Texas was under curfew with all work stopping at 5 pm. I was expecting limited access to showers, laundry, food and shelter. I was prepared to feed myself and sleep in a tent. Upon arrival at Ford Arena I discovered that the animal rescue was a small corner of a large operation. Most of the space was dedicated to volunteers serving the local community. The level of planning and cooperation was amazing.

Over 1000 people were involved in the rescue effort. Three different volunteer groups provided hot showers. The Baptist Men cooked breakfast and dinner every day and served it in a Salvation Army trailer. There was a 24 hour laundry service, internet access, and an ATM. Hundreds of volunteer EMS and firefighters from around the country operated multiple ambulances. There was an emergency room for triage and referral to Houston hospitals if necessary. Most of the facility was staffed with volunteers from the National Guard, Salvation Army, and small volunteer groups. The Army Corps of Engineers setup and maintained generators to power the camp. Many of the volunteers in the camp slept in tents. Most of the volunteers in the animal area slept in RVs which they had driven. Fuel for the field agents was provided by FEMA.

The days were hot, but the work was enjoyable. My time was divided between caring for the large animals and helping with the processing of small animals. I assisted in some field evaluations with humane society officers from around the country who were volunteering. The amount of destruction was depressing as were the large number of animals that had been left behind. As a first-time volunteer I found that 7-10 days would test my limits before needing a break. The rescue center was dismantled after 9 days when the local shelter was restored and power was returned to much of the local community allowing local veterinarians to once again care for animals.

Volunteering during the rescue effort was a unique and worthwhile endeavor because it was well planned and executed. Useful information can be gained by sharing the positive and the negative experiences of veterinary rescue operations. Including equine and other livestock is a critical component of any disaster plan, as they require unique housing, management, and medical considerations. 

Protocol for Large Animal

FIELD EVALUATIONS – ALL SPECIES

  1. Triage/General Exam – Address any immediate needs
  2. Evaluate Fencing – Repair if feasible
  3. Evaluate Food/Water/Shelter – Feed or water in field if possible
  4. Contact any neighbors or owners
  5. Decide whether to manage in the field or move to rescue center 
    1. If fencing is adequate with shelter and no immediate care is needed, leave hay and water with 5-10 gallons/animal or 0.5 – 1 gallon per small ruminant. Recheck 48 hours.
    2. If fencing not adequate or care is needed, treat/stabilize and transport to rescue center.

RESCUE CENTER PROTOCOL – HORSES

       Processing

  1. Triage and treat any critical needs
  2. Physical exam – If draining any purulent material from head or nose – ISOLATE
  3. Document age, sex, markings, scars,  pre-existing problems and area where found
  4. Pregnancy check if impending parturition may be a concern
  5. Vaccinate 1 ml WNV and 1 ml EWT left neck in two different spots
  6. Vaccinate 2 ml Rabies right neck
  7. Deworm with 20 grams Panacur/1000 pounds
  8. EIA test – Coggins Form and Red Top Tube
  9. Scan first, then Microchip left nucal ligament mid neck
  10. Record findings on entry form.

        Daily Care

  1. Provide free choice water – can share troughs across fence
  2. Provide free choice hay – minimum per horse = 16 pounds per day
  3. Provide grain when necessary – skinny, old, dental problems. Introduce slowly
  4. Provide shelter with enough room to lie down and not get cast
  5. Provide compatible stall mates and neighbors if space is a problem. 
  6. Monitor fecal output, attitude, and feed intake. Any abnormality should prompt physical exam.
  7. Rectal temps daily if respiratory disease (STRANGLES) is a concern.

RESCUE CENTER PROTOCOL – SMALL RUMINANTS

       Processing

  1. Triage and treat any critical needs
  2. Physical Exam –
    1.  pay particular attention to color of sclera and mucus membranes and rumen motility
    1. Monitor for any enlarged or draining lymph nodes – ISOLATE
  3. Document age, sex, markings, scars,  pre-existing problems and area where found           
  4. Vaccinate 2 ml Rabies vaccine
  5. Deworm Ivermectin 1 ml (2%) / 25 pounds
  6. Deworm panacur 5X horse dose
  7. Scan first the microchip over withers
  8. Record findings on entry form.

        Daily Care

1. Monitor male goats for any tail wagging, straining, vocalizing, or urethral obstruction

            2. Provide space to stand/lay down/move around – Large Dog Cage

            3. Provide fresh water

            4. Provide bedding

            5. Provide free choice hay and fresh grass

            6. Limit carbohydrate intake

Supplies

This list is intended to supplement routine supplies available for small animals and is not exhaustive of all that is needed for large animals

Coggins forms

Vacutainer needles

Red top serum tubes

35 and 60 cc syringes

20 g 1.5 inch needles

Vaccines

Detomidine

Injectable Banamine

Oral Phenylbutazone

Antibiotics

            Oxytet

            Penicillin

            Gentocin

            Trimet/Sulfa

Eye Meds

            Atropine

            Doxycycline

            Terramycin

Lidocaine

Ivermectin

Fenbendazole

Vicks Vabor Rub

Skin stapler

Suture kits

Vet wrap

4 “ bandage material

36–48 “ cotton wraps

White 1 inch tape

Duct tape

Kimzey splints

Long penrose drains

Polo wraps

Diapers

Wound ointments

Vasoline

Fly spray

Farrier supplies

Nose twitch

Nasogastric tube

Mineral oil

5 gallon buckets

Stomach pump

3-5 liter IV bags

Large IV sets

1 liter saline solutions

Hand bulb pumps

14 g 5.25 “ catheters

Rectal lube

Rectal sleeves

Fencing panels

Snow netting/fencing

Tarps

Long extension cords

Multiple water hoses

Braided rope

Wire

Pliers

Manure picker

Muck buckets

Wheel barrow

Feed scoops

Water troughs

Bleach

Other disinfectants

Neck ID bands

Halters

Lead ropes

Lariat

Zip ties

Dart Gun

References Available Upon Request