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Hurricane Irma – What Happened to the Horses?

Florida has been ravaged by one of the worst storms to hit the region in living memory. The human inhabitants of much of the state were urged to evacuate. But what happened to the many horses which call Florida home?

Horses Sent to Jail

Across Florida, millions of animals were at risk form the hurricane. Most responsible owners took their pets with them when they evacuated but you can’t put your horses in the car with you. One animal shelter found an unusual safe house for their livestock. They sheltered all of their animals at the Monroe County jail!

The 426 inmates of the jail were evacuated and then replaced by more than 250 animals including horses, alpacas and reptiles. The jail provided the perfect protection from the winds, rain and storm surge.

Thoroughbreds Moved North

Meanwhile, hundreds of thoroughbred horses were moved from low lying areas around Miami to training facilities further north. The state is prone to severe weather events and most owners have plans in place should a dangerous hurricane be forecast.

But catering for horses can be difficult, especially if you have limited financial resources.

Horses in the House

Volunteers at an organisation called Horses that Help had no other option than to take their eight horses into their living room! They laid down mats and shavings to make the animals feel comfortable. Then hunkered down with their equine friends to wait out the storm. Apparently, the charity’s evacuation plans had been ruined when the hurricane changed course.

The Aftermath

The horses spent 32 hours cooped up in the living room waiting for the storm to pass. They were then allowed outside whilst the clean-up process got underway. But their enclosure was still flooded and there was debris everywhere so the horses turned and made their way back inside! They were eventually moved to the yard but kept trying to put their heads through the windows of the house to enjoy the air conditioning! It can get very hot in Florida!

Abandoned Animals

Unfortunately, the owners of many animals, including horses, were not so attentive. Animals were left to fend for themselves across the state. If they were discovered in time, these poor creatures were rescued by charities working in the region and will not be returned to their owners. The authorities consider any abandoned animals to have been surrendered and will find them new homes.


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