Horse Evacuation Plan
Incident: West Fork Complex Wildfire
Horse Evacuation Plan Press Release
June 20, 2012 By admin
Archuleta County is located in one of the most beautiful natural areas in western Colorado. Having thousands of acres of public lands in our backyard coupled with an ecosystem that thrives on natural fire, the fire danger here in Archuleta County is high. Being prepared to move your horses in the event of a major fire or other disaster will only be successful if you are fully prepared beforehand. Those who wait until the danger is upon them will have little chance of evacuating successfully. Archuleta County and the town of Pagosa Springs do not have a large animal evacuation plan or a location where large animals can be evacuated. Many mistakenly believe they can take their animals to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are privately owned and will not be set up to provide shelter for large animals. Many are also mistaken that they could take their horses to the Humane Society shelter. The shelter is only set up for small animals.
High Country Horse Council (HCHC) started by Dr. Hooton, a veterinarian here in town has developed a self evacuation plan for horses in Archuelta County. The plan was developed using some of the best horse evacuation plans from around the country. The plan is a simple to use list of what needs to be done now and what needs to be done in the event of an evacuation. A copy of the plan is available at High County Horse Council’s website www.highcountryhorsecouncil.com for $4.99.
Dr. Hooton believes that planning now and having what needs to be in place to evacuate could save your horse. “The work and equipment needed is easy. Determining where you will take your horse in the case of an evacuation is critical” says Dr. Hooton. “If you do need to evacuate your horses, you will need to know beforehand where you will be taking your horses. That location may be across town or if the disaster is large enough, completely out of the area”. The driest months of the year are May and June and we already have a head start on the warm weather with many fires around the state and locally. “You need to prepare now.”
Nationwide, “buddying” up with your neighbor to help both you and them evacuate all of your horses has proven to be very effective. Doing so is simple; the results have been proven to be extremely effective. The HCHC self evacuation plan for horses is based on preparing now what you will need to evacuate and a list of what that includes and what to do in the event you do need to move your horses. This list of what to do to evacuate is meaningless unless you’ve done the work of preparing beforehand.
The plan includes an overview of how to successfully evacuate your horses, what you will need to have already in place to move your horses and stay, possibly long term somewhere else that is safe. The plan includes checklists for your horse, trailer, truck and items needed once you arrive at your evacuation location. What to do if you cannot leave do not have a horse trailer to move your horses or your exit route is blocked. This evacuation plan also includes tips on trailer loading (practiced to perfection beforehand) and an equine first aid list. Knowing your evacuation routes beforehand and assessing your situation is critical the day you have to evacuate.
There are several ways to find out about a local disaster. Sign up for Archuelta County’s emergency notification system (reverse 911 calls to your home or cell phone) through Archuleta County’s website. Listen to KWUF & KUST for information specific to the emergency faced. Go to www.acemergency.org to read about the emergency and call 970-731-5211 for recorded information.
Many believe that turning a horse loose is the best way to deal with a natural fire or other disasters. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Horses have no way of knowing where to go, which way is safe and will panic and injure or possibly kill themselves and risk the lives of others. Do not turn your horse loose. They need your help to survive. Evacuation takes longer than you think. To ensure the safety of you, your family and your horses, you need to be prepared beforehand. Know where you will take your horses before the disaster happens.
Some of the challenges in evacuating horses are the ability to take enough food and water for your horses. If you cannot, the location you are taking your horses to would need to have all the food and water your horses need. If you cannot evacuate you need to have at least 5 days of water and food for your horses. All horses need identification and your will need a contact list of who you will want and need to call in the event of an evacuation. This horse evacuation plan includes what you will need to do when it’s time to evacuate and what to do if you cannot. Your horse’s life depends on it. To purchase a copy of this horse self evacuation plan go to here
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