Disasters can occur at any time during the year, and can take many forms such as hurricanes, floods, gas leaks, blizzards, tornados, wildfires, etc. The best way to combat these unexpected events is to plan ahead and be prepared with supplies. Based on the crisis, guidelines from emergency personnel should be followed for evacuation protocols or recommendations to shelter in place. It would be wise to sign up to receive alerts from your town or county Office of Emergency Management.
As you prepare for a disaster, assemble your “Go Bag” as recommended by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Your “Go Bag” should be a small duffle or easily transported bag that is in an easily accessible location. The items in your bag should be sealed in a plastic bag, with duplicates attached to your trailer. As the NJDA states, the “Go Bag” should include:
- Veterinary Records and Medications
- Copy of the animal’s veterinary records
- Vaccination history
- Important test/lab results
- Medications with dosage instructions and the name and phone number of the veterinarian that prescribed the medication. Make sure the medication supply will last a few weeks. Rotate the stored medication frequently to ensure it will stay fresh and not expire.
- Any tranquilizers or sedatives deemed necessary by your veterinarian.
- List of emergency contact phone numbers including veterinarians, neighbors/friends, or other locations that you can bring your animal in an emergency.
- Feeding instructions for your animal.
- A pre-signed veterinary medical treatment authorization which will aid a veterinarian if your animal must be treated in their absence.
- Current photograph (front, back, left and right sides that include all of the legs) of your animal and yourself in the picture. Include your contact information on the back of each photograph.
- A description of your animal (age, breed, sex, color).
- The microchip number, company name, and phone number if your animal has a registered microchip.
- A tag or form of ID on a halter.
- Name of insurance company
Other important supplies to include in your emergency preparations include buckets for water, containers for feed, paper towels and cleaning supplies, garbage bags, first aid supplies, leg wraps, and extra lead ropes and halters. The food and water you prepare should last for 48-72 hours. When in storage, it is important to rotate the items to keep them as fresh as possible. It is ideal to have a few large containers that can hold water, e.g. clean trash cans. Make sure your trailer is well-maintained and in an accessible location in the event you have to leave on short notice, or are in contact with someone who can help you evacuate your horses. If you have a backup generator, make sure to test it a few times per year to ensure its proper function, and have adequate fuel stored. In the event you have to abandon your horse, leave them in an appropriate preselected area with hay and water for 48-72 hours. It is not advised to leave them with grain because of digestive complications and founder. If you have any other questions regarding emergency preparedness, check the NJDA website at: http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/animalemergency/livestock/horses/ for further clarification.