Should you turn horses loose with a rapidly moving approaching fire?

Given the events unfolding throughout California and the many horses residing within the state, the risk to horses from the extraordinary fire activity is significant. There has been a massive expansion of awareness of the need to evacuate early with animals including horses, public service announcements, and numerous web sites with resources providing specific guidance on how to prepare ahead of time and how to evacuate safely. Yet, as we all know now, fire behavior has changed significantly due to many factors and challenged our most experienced and professional fire response entities to rethink their approaches based on the new normal of rapidly spreading fire behavior.

In the thirty years that I have been involved with disaster response with a focus on the equine, I have personally seen examples of poor outcomes for horses because of evacuation failures. I have attended numerous after-action reviews, and listened to first responders and horse owners relay personal experiences with the issue of horses confined and impending fire. We all have seen the videos of the racing training facility fire and the attempts to save horses lives by opening stalls with the barn rooftops on fire and letting the horses loose. I am aware of an individual who suffered severe brain injury during trailer loading while attempting evacuation of horses with impending fire visible. I have witnessed the remains of horses confined in pens or stalls and burned to death. I have observed one horse turned loose and hit by vehicles and I am aware of many horses injured during flight from a fire while loose.

The following is an attempt to aid the awareness of those faced with the dilemma of no ability to catch, load or lead horses from fires immediately adjacent or completely on top of a barn or field containing the horses…

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine

Posted with permission from the author:

John Madigan
  • DVM, Diplomate American College of Animal Welfare
  • Distinguished Professor – Emeriti
  • Advisor – UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team
Sonoma County fires

Prepare for Evacuation in COVID

Steps to Keep Animals and People Safe

During any disaster; keeping animals; as well as people safe and healthy are always priorities

A good Disaster Action Plan goal is always to avoid emergency shelters as much as possible, and, during COVID, this is especially true The virus presents new and serious challenges for emergency managers, responders; and us. The need for advance planning is greater than everv and having multiple plans Will be stress-reducing, and possibly, life-saving.

Here are some ways you can plan to overcome challenges and keep your animals – and you – safe and healthy.

COVID Related Evacuation Challenges

  • Shelters will be smaller and spread out in multiple locations, which might include motels, campgrounds, community centers, and other facilities If you don’t have a destination lined up, you may be directed to an Evacuation Center first, where you may be required to have a COVID screening. This means your pets could be in the car for a longer period.
  • Pets are at risk of “escaping” when a window is rolled down or a door is opened. Keeping them secure and cool, are considerations to plan for.
  • Animal Care resources may not be Immediatelv available at temporary shelter locations. Be self-supporting. The same goes for you: take enough healthy food; snacks and drinks for at least 36-48 hours.
  • Your evacuation destination could be subject to a PSPS and you might be without power for a while You’ll need to think ahead about how to keep everyone comfortably cool, and your communication devices charged.
  • If you are self-quarantined, or COVID-positive; your options will be very limited. It’s critically important to have plans for a pet-friendly location where you can self-isolate, AND backup helpers to care for your pet should you need hospitalization or be otherwise separated.

Meeting the Challenges…

Halter Project

Posted with permission from the Halter Project

Preparing for Evacuation