When The Storm Clears, Veterinary Challenges Remain For Horses Stuck In Flood Waters

by | 09.12.2017 |

 

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma flooded two of the largest horse populations in the United States. Texas has a million horses and Florida has a half-million. During the hurricanes, the major threat to these animals was flying debris, but in their aftermath, horses struggled through floodwater to survive.

Floodwater is particularly hazardous because of the level of pollutants it carries. Not only does it harbor bacteria from sewage and other sources, but it also contains harmful chemicals from flooded industrial facilities and breached storage areas on farms.

“I’ve been through a lot of floods,” said Dr. William Moyer, who in 2015 retired from Texas A&M University after a 22-year career as a professor and head of the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department. He still helps out as a member of TAMU’s Veterinary Emergency Team, which he helped establish during Hurricane Rita in 2005. The unit is the largest and most sophisticated veterinary medical disaster-response team in the country.

Moyer said skin problems are common in horses standing in floodwater. Water leaches natural oils and other protective factors from the skin, making it easier for pollutants to invade. Usually these horses don’t suffer from a specific skin disease with a name, he said, but from exposure to a variety of irritants, chemicals, and bacteria that can have a deleterious effect, depending on the concentration.

“If you look at some of these refineries, there are cattle or horses grazing on the other side of the fence,” he said. “But with the exception of one chemical plant incident during Harvey, I don’t think there have been any toxic spills.”

Moyer said the most important thing is to get the horse somewhere it can dry off and examine it closely to find and treat any open wounds, even small ones. He said to pay particular attention to the pasterns and the backside of the fetlocks, where the feather might hide a wound.

“You might see a little cut that you normally wouldn’t even treat,” he said. “But then two days later the leg is blown up all the way up to the horse’s chest because the contamination is such that just a nick potentially becomes a significant problem.

“Clean it up with soap and water or some kind of effective disinfectant,” he said.

Clean water in disaster areas usually is scarce, but if a safe water supply via a hose is available, Moyer said to bathe the horse in mild detergent, such as Dawn dish soap, to wash off contamination from the floodwater.

If possible, horsemen should try to find out the status of the tetanus vaccination of any horse pulled from floodwater and boost it, if needed.

Hoof wounds

Dick Fanguy is a former president of the American Farrier’s Association who lives near Baton Rouge, La. Though his area was spared from flooding this time around, he took care of many horses during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, triaging their foot wounds and passing them on to veterinary students for further care.

“These horses are going to come out of that water and their feet are going to be extremely soft,” he said.

Soft hooves are more easily penetrated when they step on foreign objects. The hazards depend on the area where a horse is found. In urban areas, debris from damaged buildings is under the water, whereas horses in rural areas will be exposed to fewer hazards.

“I pulled so many foreign objects out of soles that it was ridiculous,” Fanguy said. “We rescued two horses from New Orleans, and I pulled roofing nails and glass out of their feet. But horses that were in a rural setting just came in with wet, soaked feet. It was just a matter of putting them in a dry stall and letting nature do what nature does.”

Puncture wounds were the priority because of the danger from pollution in the floodwater. For these, Fanguy immediately disinfected the wound with a surgical scrub, debrided it, packed it with a mixture of Epsom salt and povidone iodine (Betadine), and wrapped the foot.

“My experience is that a hoof is a very resilient thing and will come out all right,” he said.

One of the tragedies in the wake of disasters is that many horses (and other animals) are never reunited with their owners because they bear no identification. Moyer, a strong proponent of microchipping, hopes these hurricanes will be a wake-up call for owners to have their animals microchipped.

Louisiana requires all horses to be microchipped. In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, all but one of 364 recovered horses were able to be reunited with their owners using microchip identification.

NTRA Charities Donates to Harvey Relief Efforts

NTRA Charities—a subsidiary of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association—has pledged a $5,000 donation to the Penn National Gaming Foundation, with the contribution earmarked for employees of Sam Houston Race Park most severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the resulting floods in Southeast Texas.

“We’ve all seen the devastating images coming out of South Texas,” said NTRA President & CEO Alex Waldrop. “The region is hurting, including individuals and their families directly tied to Sam Houston Race Park. We are pleased to contribute funds to support these families in their time of need and applaud so many other horse industry groups making similar contributions across the region.”

Sam Houston, currently between race meetings, opened its stable area as a horse shelter during Harvey and the racetrack property, in northwest Houston, appears to have evaded serious damage. However, track president Andrea Young said they have been in contact with at least a dozen employees who have been severely impacted.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of NTRA charities,” Young said. “There are so many people in the Greater Houston area that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey and it is comforting for our employees to see the support of the racing community during this difficult time. This gift will go directly to our employees who have been most impacted. The road to recovery is just beginning and this wonderful gesture will help that recovery start today.”

The Penn National Gaming Foundation, a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is establishing a Hurricane Harvey disaster relief project to provide financial assistance for the immediate needs of Sam Houston Race Park employees and support nonprofit organizations in the Greater Houston area. If you would like to make a donation to the Foundation or request additional information on its efforts, please contact Amanda Garber at (610) 373-2400 or amanda.garber@pngaming.com.

Sam Houston opened in 1994 as the first Class 1 racetrack in Texas. Penn National Gaming (PNG) is the managing member of Sam Houston Race Park and also operates Thoroughbred racing at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and Zia Park Casino, Hotel & Racetrack. PNG owns, operates or has ownership interests in gaming and racing facilities and video gaming terminal operations at 29 properties in 17 jurisdictions.

Sam Houston Shelters Horses Displaced by Texas Flood

More than 100 horses being stabled as of Aug. 29.

 

So far the Texas Thoroughbred industry appears to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Harvey, which battered the Gulf Coast with damaging winds when it made landfall Aug. 25 and has since saturated the Houston area with a record 49 inches of contiguous rain.

Sam Houston Race Park, which is located northwest of downtown Houston and adjacent to the Sam Houston Tollway, has not sustained any major damage or flooding, according to Roland Tamez, who is with the track’s security team. The track did not have any racehorses on the grounds when the storm hit because its live racing season ended in May.

The barn area is now being used to provide free shelter for horses being evacuated out of flooded areas. Several horses had been sent to the track ahead of the storm because their owners had experienced flooding in the past.

“We’ve got over 100 horses in three barns right now,” said Tamez, who added that anyone who needs shelter for their horses can call the track at (281) 807-8790 and arrange for a security officer to assist.

“These stalls do not have gates,” Tamez said. “So horse owners need to provide a gate or stall webbing, hay, feed, bedding, tubs, and buckets. The track is providing water.”

Tamez said the roads around the racetrack are clear, and he noted there is no flooding along the nearby segment of the tollway and the feeder roads. He said roads also are clear between the racetrack and I-45.

Sam Houston president Andrea Young said the barn area will be available as long as necessary.

“There are areas that may take three weeks to a month before people can get back into their homes, because that’s how long it will take for the water to go down,” Young said. “We’re prepared to help as long as we need to.”

Heavy rains much farther inland did effect the Gillespie County Fairgrounds, which had to cancel live racing this weekend at its track near Fredericksburg and will conduct three of its Quarter Horse stakes races at Retama Park in San Antonio, which is about 70 miles away. No damage was done to the facility, but state stewards determined the saturated racing surface was unsafe.

Aside from the horses being sheltered at Sam Houston, the Texas Thoroughbred Association has not fielded many calls for assistance over the past few days, according to TTA executive director Mary Ruyle.

“We are compiling and will publish a list of resources,” Ruyle said. “But it is surprising we haven’t heard more.”

One reason, she said, may be because a majority of the farms are located inland from the hardest hit areas. James Leatherman, racing secretary at Retama, said the racetrack only got two inches of rain with winds of 45-50 mph, which caused only minor damage to some fencing.

In Louisiana, the Equine Sales Company has announced that its Consignor Select Yearling Sale set for Aug. 31 in Opelousas, will be held as scheduled starting at 10 a.m. local time. The sales facility and the surrounding area have not been significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Equine organizations offer disaster relief funds to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

(Washington, DC)- In the wake of one of the worst tropical natural disasters to hit the United States, the residents and animals of Texas need your help. A record 49 inches of rain has fallen in the Houston area, and even more is expected. So what can you do?

There are several equine specific disaster relief funds that you can donate to that will support the efforts of emergency response groups and organizations that are helping horses impacted by the flooding.

  • United States Equestrian Federation Equine Disaster Relief Fund: Developed in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund was formed to help ensure the safety and well-being of horses during trying times. Since its inception, over $370,000 has been donated to aid horses across all breeds in disaster-related situations. All money donated to the fund is strictly used to benefit horses and horse owners, and the USEF will be working with the Houston SPCA to help animals that have been displaced. To donate to the USEF Disaster Relief Fund:  https://www.usef.org/donate
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation Equine Disaster Relief Fund: The AAEP Foundation will work with agencies and veterinary members in Texas, Louisiana and other affected states to identify the needs of the equine community. Supplies are not being accepted currently as the catastrophic storm is still occurring. Once the Foundation receives an assessment of need and distribution protocols from the agencies and veterinary members in the afflicted areas, the Foundation will work to support them with supply needs as well. To support the impending needs of these equine victims, please donate online at:  https://foundation.aaep.org/form/foundation-donation.  If you wish to offer assistance with supplies or other resources, please email Keith Kleine at kkleine@aaep.org and you will be contacted with further instructions.
  • Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Disaster Relief Fund: The fund helps centers in need due to catastrophic disasters not normally covered by operating insurance. This includes flooding. The fund was started in 2005 to help centers with the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina. To donate, click here:  Donate to the PATH Intl. Disaster Relief Fund.  Additionally,  if your PATH Intl. Center needs disaster relief,  click here for information and to download the Disaster Relief Fund application.

Additionally, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible flood relief donations and will be administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Please share with your fellow members of the horse community, and with anyone wanting to help all those in need!

View on AHC Website

Hurricane Harvey: USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund Supports Houston Emergency Response Groups

Sweeping across the Gulf Coast of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane over the past weekend, Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic flooding has put the Houston and surrounding area equine community in a state of distress. Declared a major disaster and weather event, hundreds of horses and livestock have been affected.

Banding together as a community, emergency rescues, fellow equestrians opening up their barns for shelter and extensive veterinary care has been required over the last several days.  As the rain continues to fall, rising flood waters will make extended care for displaced large and small animals on an ongoing need.

Supporting the efforts of emergency response groups and organizations that are helping horses impacted by the flooding, US Equestrian is providing financial assistance through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

Developed in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund was formed to help ensure the safety and well-being of horses during trying times. Since its inception, over $370,000 has been donated  to aid horses across all breeds in disaster-related situations. All money donated to the fund is strictly used to benefit horses and horse owners.

Make a donation to the USEF Disaster Relief Fund here.

US Equestrian will be working with the Houston SPCA to support their rescue and rehabilitation efforts through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

Encouraging donations to help the horses affected by Hurricane Harvey, US Equestrian CEO Bill Moroney said, “as part of our commitment to the health, welfare, and safety of horses, the USEF disaster relief fund was created to assist horses impacted by devastating natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. The outreach and generosity of the equestrian community to support the ongoing emergency assistance in this and future disasters allows us to provide direct financial assistance to the groups involved in the ongoing rescue efforts.”

For more information on the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund, please contact Vicki Lowell, vlowell@usef.org.

AAEP Foundation Disaster Relief Fund Accepting Donations to Assist Horses Affected by Hurricane Harvey

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation’s Equine Disaster Relief Fund is accepting aid to help horses in Texas, Louisiana and other states affected by Hurricane Harvey. Fund donations will be distributed among credible programs and organizations that are helping with recovery and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath and towards preparedness efforts for future disasters.

The AAEP Foundation will work with agencies and veterinary members in Texas, Louisiana and other affected states to identify the needs of the equine community. Supplies are not being accepted currently as the catastrophic storm is still occurring. Once the Foundation receives an assessment of need and distribution protocols from the agencies and veterinary members in the afflicted areas, the Foundation will work to support them with supply needs as well.

“The AAEP, AAEP Foundation and the equine veterinary community are saddened by the tragic loss of life and incredible destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey,” said AAEP President R. Reynolds Cowles, Jr., DVM. “We are compelled to reach out, together with our members, horse owners and industry leaders, as part of the effort to support the disaster’s equine victims.”

To support the impending needs of these equine victims, please donate online at

https://foundation.aaep.org/form/foundation-donation

Donations by mail can be sent to: Equine Disaster Relief Fund, AAEP Foundation, 4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511; (800) 443-0177 (U.S. only) or (859) 233-0147.

If you wish to offer assistance with supplies or other resources, please email Keith Kleine at kkleine@aaep.org and you will be contacted with further instructions.

Harvey Help For Horses

Louisiana Horse Tourism is compiling resources for horses and their people.

Please email with stabling availability, feed stores, hay and other supplies for horses and their people who might be in need.
We will post resources to our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram feeds.
Tag @LouisianaHorse for us to share as well.
Email Julie Calzone, jcalzone@calzone.com or call (337) 235-2924 ext 18 with resource links.
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