September 3, 2008 -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine and team members of the Equine Health Studies Program have developed a call center in an effort to respond to the potential needs of horse owners in southern Louisiana. The telephone number for horse owners in need is 225-578-9501. This helpline will function from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the coming weekend and perhaps longer if the need is evident. A secondary number exclusively dedicated to this purpose is 225-578-9062.
Today, LSU Ag assessment teams were in the field as Parish officials allowed families back to their homes and farms. District representatives from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) have reported that there are no hurricane-related equine needs at this time in terms of a full scale response effort and that there are no plans for any staging areas at this time. However, plans are in place in the event of that need.
"Reports of injured horses, or horses in need of evacuation are minimal at this point," said Dr. Becky McConnico, LSU Faculty Veterinarian and LSART Equine Branch Director. "That could possibly change as the rains continue and horse owners begin to contact the school from different areas of the state."
Early this morning, local veterinarian Dr. Justin Gregg reported that many areas in Catahoula Parish are flooding. This is the delta region northwest of Baton Rouge where the Black River and Tensaw River flow into the Mississippi River. LSART has rescued four horses from the area and provided veterinary care. As the heavy rains persist it is likely there will be more of the same from this region of the state. Provisions of feed/hay/water and veterinary supplies are on hand, but can dwindle quickly given the number of horses and cattle in Catahoula Parish and the potential need for ongoing assistance.
Donations are being accepted to assist the effort as the LSU team gears up to respond to the equine community and offer assistance where needed. To contribute to this effort, please make contributions payable to the LSU Foundation with "Animal Disaster Fund" in the memo line and send to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.