Disaster Preparedness for Horse Owners

Equine Disaster Preparedness Information

Equine Disaster Preparedness

Flooding is the most common and costly disaster experienced by U.S. citizens. Flooding can be dangerous not only for horses but for ranchers and their employees as well. Six inches of moving water can topple an adult, and as little as 12 inches can sweep a vehicle off the road. Additionally, flooding can impact equine facilities with structural damage and loss of feed, leading to severe economic losses. This pamphlet describes actions equine owners can take to prepare, respond, and recover from flooding events. Read more about how to keep your horses safe in the event of a flood by clicking here.

Livestock Disaster Preparedness

Livestock Disaster Preparedness

During the heavy rainfalls of 1997, a levee dam in the Central Valley of California overtopped and started flooding a dairy. The owner simply started making calls to find relocation sites for his approximately 600 cattle. Assisted by his dairy trade group, the producer located about six neighboring dairies with extra corral space. Emergency phone calls resulted in volunteers arriving with trucks and trailers over a three day period, allowing the herd to be relocated. Following the flooding, the cows were returned to the dairy and commercial operations resumed. Read more about how to keep your livestock safe in the event of a natural disaster by clicking here.

Disaster Preparedness Education

Check back for future course dates.

The Center for Equine Health is joining forces with the Western Institute for Food Safety & Security (WIFSS) and the International Animal Welfare Training Institute (IAWTI) at UC Davis to develop a training program for first responders and community volunteers.  This training would allow individuals in the community to work with their local Office of Emergency Services in handling and/or evacuating horses and other large animals during a natural disaster.

Even the smallest communities have an emergency operations plan that describes how government and private organizations coordinate in a crisis.  Emergency managers, animal control officers, and police or fire department officials are usually in charge of such a plan. Does your community's plan include an animal component?  If not, you may be able to help develop one.

Animal disaster volunteers who are called to action during emergencies work in hazardous situations and handle stressed animals.  Large animals in particular can be dangerous under these circumstances.  To keep everyone safe, training is essential and required in order to be allowed to help in a disaster.  The level of training necessary depends on the level of risk, and volunteers may be expected to continue training on a yearly basis to ensure their safety or increase their skill levels.

Why should you become involved?

Previous disasters have taught us that the majority of animal owners are reluctant to evacuate without their animals.  In many cases, this puts them in direct danger and complicates rescue efforts.  Yet, in spite of federal and state laws that were passed after Katrina to include provisions for pets in a disaster, a significant number of states still do not have plans that include animals.  Even within the states that do, it is up to individual cities, counties and communities to prepare to carry out the plans with rescue workers who are trained to handle animals. (Note:  First responders also must be trained to handle animals, particularly large animals.)

Horse being rescued from floodwaters

In a natural disaster involving horses or other large animals, a community Large Animal Response Team can mean the difference between rescue and injury/death.  And because access to disaster relief efforts will be limited to those who are trained responders, it’s important to organize, train and become certified in large animal disaster response.  Communities who regularly battle fire (San Diego County, Los Angeles County) or flooding have learned that a well-organized and trained Large Animal Response Team can work directly with their local Office of Emergency Services to rescue horses and other animals affected by disaster.

People who are prepared

  • can be their own solution
  • know their animals best
  • let first responders focus on the disaster

Please take advantage of this great opportunity to benefit yourself and your entire community!  If you are unable to volunteer yourself, your support of training programs can also make a difference.


DANR Guide to Disaster Preparedness:  (pdf)

Natural Disaster:  Are You and Your Horse Ready?  http://www.thehorse.com/features/35909/natural-disaster-are-you-and-your-horse-ready

The Horse Report on Disaster Preparedness with videos:  http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e8f9c6af#/e8f9c6af/1

Animals in Disaster Training Courses (Western Institute for Food Safety & Security at UC Davis):  http://www.wifss.ucdavis.edu/?s=Animals+in+Disaster+Training+Courses

Support Training of Volunteers in Large Animal Response/Rescue Through a DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TRAINING FUND

A DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TRAINING FUND has been set up to help support a disaster training program that will be offered to California community volunteers, first responders, animal control officers, and veterinarians.  If you would like to help support this effort, please consider making a donation to the Center for Equine Health.

Donate button

To send a check, please make payable to UC Regents and mail to:

Center for Equine Health
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Thank you for supporting this cause and your community by becoming involved in disaster planning and large animal rescue.