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Plan developed for evacuation of horses in an emergency

By Beverly Compton
Special to The SUN

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 residents mistakenly believe they can take their animals to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds is privately owned and will not be set up to provide shelter for large animals.

Many residents are also mistaken thinking that they could take their horses to the Humane Society shelter.  The shelter is set up only for small animals.

The driest months of the year are May and June and you need to prepare now.

High Country Horse Council has developed a self-evacuation plan for horses in Archuelta County.  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 for $2.99 at High Country Horse Council’s, website www.highcountryhorsecouncil.com.

The plan includes an overview of how to successfully evacuate your horses, what you will need to have in place to move your horses and stay, possibly long term, somewhere else. The plan includes checklists for your horse, trailer and truck; items needed once you arrive at your evacuation location; and 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.

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 or which way is safe, 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.

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.