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Disaster Preparedness for Horse Owners


  • Plan Ahead. Determine the best place for animal confinement in case of a disaster. Find alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps are not working or have a hand pump installed. You should have a minimum of three days feed and water on hand.
  • Evacuation. Decide where to take your horses if evacuation is necessary. Contact fairgrounds, equestrian centers, and private farms/stables about their policies and ability to take horses temporarily in an emergency. Have several sites in mind. Familiarize yourself with several evacuation routes to your destination.
  • Identification. This is critical! Photograph, identify, and inventory your horses. Permanent identification such as tattoos, brands, etched hooves or microchips are best. Temporary identification, such as tags on halters, neck bands, and duct tape with permanent writing will also work. Include your name and phone number. Keep identification information with you to verify ownership. (Breed registration papers may already have this information.)
  • Medical Records and Vaccinations. Your horses need to have current vaccinations. Keep medical histories and record special dosing instructions, allergies, and dietary requirements. Write down contact information for your veterinarian.
  • Vehicles. Keep trailers and vans well-maintained, full of gas, and ready to move at all times. Be sure your animals will load. If you don=t have your own vehicles, make arrangements with local companies or neighbors before disaster strikes.
  • Fire Preparation. In high risk areas, clear fire breaks around your house, barns, and property lines. Keep fire fighting tools in one location.
  • Flood Preparation. Identify available high ground on your property or other nearby evacuation sites. Be familiar with road availability during flood conditions.


  • Listen to the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) on the TV or radio.
  • Evacuate your horses early, if possible, to ensure their safety and ease your stress.
  • Take all vaccination and medical records, the Emergency disaster kit, and enough hay and water for three days. Call your destination to make sure the site is still available. Use roads not in use for human evacuation when you transport your horses to the sheltering site.
  • If you must leave your animals, leave them in the preselected area appropriate for disaster type. Leave enough hay for 48 to 72 hours. Do not rely on automatic watering systems. Power may be lost.
    The leading causes of death in large animals during disaster are:
  • Collapsed barns
  • Kidney failure due to dehydration
  • Electrocution from downed power lines
  • Fencing failures


  • Check fences to be sure they are intact. Check pastures and fences for sharp objects that could injure horses. Be aware of downed power lines, fallen trees, and debris.
  • Beware of local wildlife that may have entered the area and could pose a danger.
  • Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and animals can easily become confused and lost.
  • If you find someone else=s animal, isolate it from your animals until it is returned to its owner or can be examined by a veterinarian.
  • Always use caution when approaching and handling strange or frightened horses. Work in pairs.
  • If you’ve lost an animal, contact veterinarians, humane societies, stables, surrounding farms, and other facilities. Listen to the EBS for groups that may be accepting lost animals.
  • Check with your veterinarian and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Animal Health Branch for information about possible disease outbreaks.

Disaster Preparedness Kit

  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Plastic trash barrel with a lid
  • Water buckets
  • Stored feeds
  • Non-nylon leads, halters, and shanks
  • Leg wraps
  • Horse blanket or sheet
  • First Aid items
  • Tarps
  • Portable generators
  • Flashlights
  • Shovel
  • Lime or bleach
  • Fly spray
  • Wire cutters
  • Sharp knife
  • Hoof Pick

Emergency Contact Information

You will need to have your emergency contact information in one easily accessible place. This information is different in every county. By filling in the information below, you will be prepared to reach the key animal disaster resources in your county.

Note down the phone number in your county for the following:

  • Office of Emergency Services County Animal Coordinator
  • County Animal Control
  • CA Veterinary Medical Assn. County Disaster Coordinator (Call (916) 344-4985 for your county’s contact information)
  • County Agricultural Commissioner
  • Your Veterinarian
  • Potential Evacuation Sites

Developed by the State of California, Department of Food and Agriculture, Animal Health and Food Safety Services, Animal Health Branch, Animal Care Program, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 654-1447.