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Kentucky Governor Fletcher Urges Horse Owners to Prepare for Emergencies

, KY - In a joint statement issued today, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher and the directors of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and the Kentucky Horse Park stated, “Kentucky and horses are innately, inseparably connected to one another.  Horses are an integral part of our state’s national identity, our history and future.  They embody the unbridled spirit of our state and it is our duty to be mindful of their welfare.  To that end, we encourage all horse owners to have emergency plans in place now, for their families, horses, pets and other livestock in case of emergencies, natural disasters and terrorism.”


Governor Fletcher noted, “With the recent anniversaries of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, we remember the devastating loss of life and we are reminded of the necessity to be prepared for the unexpected and unthinkable.”  He continued, “A well-designed, well-rehearsed emergency plan could save countless human and animal lives, prevent needless suffering, reduce emotional turmoil and minimize property loss.” 


With the support and resources of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, the Kentucky Horse Park, several organizations from the National Horse Center* and national humane organizations, emergency preparedness plans have been made available on-line.**


According to (Retired) Major Alecia Webb-Edgington, Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already partnered with the American Kennel Club, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States to encourage pet owners to prepare for emergencies.  Additionally, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security is unequivocally encouraging horse owners to be prepared for local emergencies and large-scale disasters.”


John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park stated, “When making emergency and disaster plans for horses, there is no question that it is, absolutely first and foremost, the right thing to do from a humane standpoint.  Here in the Horse Capital of the World it is also a most judicious action from an economic standpoint.”  He continued, “According to the American Horse Council, Kentucky has approximately 320,000 horses.  The state’s horse industry produces goods and services valued at $2.3 billion annually and directly provides nearly 52,000 full-time equivalent jobs.” 


On a national scale, horses and the horse industry deserve equal consideration. There are approximately 9.2 million horses in the U.S., with a direct economic effect of $39 billion annually.***


Effective emergency and disaster planning takes every possibility into consideration, from traffic accidents, illness or injury, contagious diseases, terrorist attack, financial hardships, feed shortages, fuel shortages and power outages to natural disasters such as ice storms, fires, floods, drought, hail, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados.  


Emergency plans are also encouraged for horse shows, races and other equestrian events.


On a current, related note, last week the U.S. House of Representatives cleared by voice vote a bill (H.R. 3858) to amend the Stafford Disaster Relief Act to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.  The measure would require the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to review state and local plans to ensure they provide for housing for pets and service animals.  The House first passed the measure in May by a 349-24 vote. However, the Senate then passed an amended version, which included additional language allowing FEMA to fund the procurement, construction, leasing, or renovation of emergency shelters that would accommodate people with pets. The President is expected to sign the bill.


Governor Fletcher concluded, “As the Horse Capital of the World, we want to take the lead in encouraging horse owners across the nation to utilize these free resources for the safety and well-being of our families, farms, pets and livestock.  This isn’t about fear; it’s about peace of mind.”


* The National Horse Center comprises 29 national and regional equine organizations headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park.  For a list of member organizations, click on  Many of these organizations have posted emergency plans on their websites.


** Emergency preparedness plans for families are available, free of charge, through the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security at  Emergency plans for horses are available on a number of National Horse Center organizations’ websites, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the United States Pony Clubs at   Emergency plans for pets are available from Homeland Security at, the Red Cross at, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at, the American Kennel Club at, and the Humane Society of the United States at   An effective emergency plan should include evacuation arrangements in the event of local disasters as well as state and national disasters.


*** The American Horse Council Foundation commissioned a National Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry study by Deloitte Consulting LLP in 2005.

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