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Natural Disaster: Animal Preparation and Response

Natural disasters affect animals as much as they do their human counterparts. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) works with local, state, federal, non-governmental, and sector partners to help plan for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters that affect livestock and companion and service animals.


Winter Storms

Winter storms and cold weather can impact animal health as well as human health. Winter storms can be stressful to livestock. Wind chills and prolonged cold increases their need for shelter, food and water. Below please find resources that will help you prepare for winter storm events and guide you through the recovery process.

Animal Health

Stray Livestock

In extreme winter weather, fences can be covered by snow or damaged and livestock can be displaced.

  • If you come across stray livestock or down fences, contact your local sheriff’s department.
  • If your animal needs medical assistance (frostbite, distress, fatigue, lesions, etc.), contact your local veterinarian.

Animal Disposal

When the extreme winter weather conditions transition to recovery efforts, Texans may face the challenge of animal disposal. Please use the following resources to guide you during this recovery phase.

  • Carcasses on private property, non-residential areas: Animal owners and operators are responsible for the proper disposal of their animals. To learn about common methods of non-diseased animal carcass disposal visit Disaster-Related Carcass Disposal Guide or visit the Texas Commission Environmental Quality’s website at www.tceq.texas.gov.
  • Animal Carcasses in Public Areas (including residential):Animal carcasses found in public areas or rights-of-way should be reported to the local county Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to be handled through the jurisdiction’s debris management plan. You can find your county’s EOC information at http://www.tdms.org/county.aspx.

Animal Shelters

At this time, animal owners are advised to contact their local authorities (sheriff's department, EOC, or call 2-1-1) to learn more about open animal shelters in their area. Companion animals are accepted at some warming centers, visit https://tdem.texas.gov/warm/ or call 2-1-1 to learn more.

Agriculture Indemnity and Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has programs that provide assistance to rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by the recent winter storms. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are prepared with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities. To learn more, visit the USDA website or contact your local USDA Service Center directly.

Animal Supplies and Donations

Hay:The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) helps agricultural producers locate forage and hay supplies. If you need hay or would like to donate hay, visit the Hay Hotline website or call 512-787-9966.


Flooding

Tropical storms, hurricanes, and thunderstorms can cause flooding with little or no warning. Severe weather has the potential to cause catastrophic loss of life and property, financial, and environment damage to local communities. Animals may be displaced and need temporary sheltering, housing feeding, and care. They may also be injured or diseased and need veterinary attention. Prepare now to protect your livestock and pets during flooding.


Tornadoes

Tornadoes can occur anywhere with little or no warning. Severe weather has the potential to cause catastrophic loss of life and property, financial, and environment damage to local communities. Animals may be displaced and need temporary sheltering, housing feeding, and care. They may also be injured or diseased and need veterinary attention. Prepare now to protect your livestock and pets during severe weather.


Extreme Heat

The Texas summers can get hot and with proper preparation your animals can keep cool and hydrated during the summer months.


Wildfires

Wildfires affect America’s farms and ranches, damaging and destroying homes, barns, agriculture production facilities, and livestock. Much of this damage can be minimized, if a few precautions are taken to minimize the risk and spread of wildfires.Prepare now to protect your livestock and pets during a wildfire.