With Tropical Strom Bill reaching the Texas Coast earlier in the week we are reminded of the importance of hurricane preparedness. For all coastal residence preparedness means protecting your family during and immediately after a disaster by making a family disaster plan and by creating a family disaster kit for your household. In addition to this, those with livestock and/or companion animals also need to have disaster plans for them as well. After all, the animal owner is ultimately responsible for their animal’s welfare and in the case of companion animals are often considered part of the family.
Having an emergency supply kit for pets, as well as, yourself is important. Some of the things that should be included in your pet supply kit might include: ownership/health and vaccination records, medications, first aid supplies, pictures of the pet in case you are separated, sanitary items for properly handling pet waste. A supply of food and water that is sufficient to last for 3 days for you and your pet is also an essential part of preparedness supplies. Pet carriers/crates and leashes are also essential to help facilitate movement of your pet in the event evacuation becomes necessary.
Livestock owners should consider having similar supply kits ready. However, they might also include additional items such as electric fence supplies, flashlight, feed and water buckets, and extra tack ropes and halters. Well prepared livestock owners will ensure that all animals have current immunizations and that they are permanently identified. For horses maintaining a current coggins test is necessary.
If livestock is not permanently identified, at minimum owners can take pictures of the animal as proof of ownership. Waterproof luggage tag or cattle ear tags with owner information can be braided into horses’ tails or manes. Small animal trimmers can also be used to clip owner’s phone number on the necks of horses.
Owners of livestock need to have a plan in place to evacuate the livestock they own should it become necessary. Since not all livestock owners have a trailer or adequate capacity for all the livestock they own planning evacuation in critical. If you are relying on others to help you evacuate make sure those needs have been discussed. Animals should be evacuated no less than 72 hours before a storm makes land fall. Before getting on the road, trucks and trailers need to be inspected to insure that they are in good operating condition. Part of your evacuation plan also needs to include knowing in advance where you and your livestock will evacuate to. A list of livestock shelters is available by dialing 2-1-1.
If you decide not to evacuate, remember that most damage to buildings, pens, and animals comes from wind and flying objects so the ability to protect livestock in advance from these dangers greatly reduces injury. Large livestock can be turned out in large pastures with solid shelter or tall brush on high ground to weather storms or kept in barns. Determining whether to house livestock in barns or turn them out depends on the situation and type of facilities in question. Owners need to make a decision as to whether their animal is more likely to become harmed by flying debris coming off the barn or out in the pasture. If you choose to remain in the barn make sure that electricity to the barn is turned off and that adequate feed in the form of hay (not concentrate feed/grain) and water are available. Owners should not rely on automatic waterers to provide water during a storm because these systems can fail. Horses need around 18 gallons of fresh water a day, while cattle need 23 gallons.
Post storm, livestock owners should check on the condition of their animals as soon as it is safe to do so. Be prepared to take hay, water, and provide basic livestock first aid. Supplies to create temporary fencing and/or repair existing fencing may also be needed.