Vets to NSW horse owners in bushfire areas: act now to save lives

19 Dec 2019

With a state of emergency declared in NSW this morning due to catastrophic fire conditions, equine vets are imploring horse owners in bushfire areas to move their horses now or risk losing their animals.

“If you have not yet implemented your disaster plan and moved your horses to a safe and secure area, now is the time to act,” said Dr Sam Nugent, President of Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA). “If you cannot get your horses to a safe area then the ideal location is a large, well-grazed paddock or a series of smaller paddocks, with a good reliable water source and with the internal gates left open.”

Dr Nugent said that it is critical to not lock horses in a stable, holding yard or similar environment, as they may panic and hurt themselves if confined. “We also ask that you remove all gear as well as rugs from your horse, as these could get caught on fences, melt or become very hot and cause serious burns."

“For safety, it is most important to not let your horses out on the roads as they will be in more danger from traffic and fire,” said Dr Nugent.

Up to 100 bushfires are threatening large areas of NSW, and authorities have extreme fire danger warnings in place for the Greater Sydney, Illawarra and Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges areas today.

Make sure your horses are easily identifiable by microchipping or branding them. If your horse is not chipped or branded, write your name and phone number on your horse – preferably with a grease crayon. Forward planning can be the biggest asset when trying to protect the safety and wellbeing of your horses if you live in a high-risk bushfire area. Have a written plan and practice!

“These are unprecedented and dangerous times, act quickly and hopefully we can keep all of our horses safe.”