Information was collected by interview from 26 farms (about 10% of the estimated number of premises with horses) in 1987. The information was then analysed. The survey points out that emergency plans should address the unique needs of horse owners. Although most respondents indicated they would leave an evacuation zone, some, if given the time, would either evacuate some animals or attempt to provide some protection for those animals left on the farm. In a rapid-onset event, this suggests some owners would provide safety for their animals to the detriment of themselves. Moreover, the primary criterion used for the choice of horses to evacuate - 46% would choose horses to be taken based on sentimental value - suggests a propensity to evacuate horses no matter what the time frame. Having other animals (cattle, goats, dogs, cats) did not affect the owners' decision to evacuate the horses. In a chemical release, this action could lead to adverse human health affects. It is concluded that the inclusion of representatives from the horse-owning segment of the population on local emergency management planning committees is critical both to fully understand and prepare for the problems horse owners encounter and to provide timely and factual information in an emergency involving horses, livestock and other animals.
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