It is estimated that Alberta has over 320,000 horses, approximately 33% of the total horse population in Canada (2010 Canadian Equine Industry Profile Study). There is not a municipality within Alberta that does not have equine or equine-based businesses nor is there a more diverse industry than the equine industry.
When an emergency occurs, equine and equine owners are affected – horse owners and custodians are often left on their own to manage the horses in their care. Experience has shown that the lack of emergency structure creates human and animal safety issues and has a negative impact on the response of first responders and municipal emergency coordinators to the actual emergency. Survey results from an Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) Post Disaster Analysis of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires show 95% of the respondents agree that there is a need for a specific emergency structure for equine.
In March of 2017 the AEF received funding for the Equine Industry Emergency Preparedness Program. The program includes:
- Risk assessment (survey) to gauge the current level of preparedness for dealing with equines in emergency situations. From April 18 – May 18, 2017 we collected data on emergency preparedness from municipalities including First Nations and Metis Settlements across the province.
- Development of an Equine Industry Emergency Preparedness Plan to include guidelines and templates to assist Municipality governing bodies and personnel incorporate equine into existing emergency management plans.
- Establishment of theAlberta Equine Industry Resource Emergency Team who will provide equine expertise in adapting existing emergency plans to include horses. The team will be available as a resource at time of an emergency.
- Emergency preparedness workshopsfor Emergency Management personnel that will include an overview of the equine industry and emergency preparedness for horse owners and caregivers.
In a commitment to improve Canada’s approach to emergency management in agriculture, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments have developed an Emergency Management Framework for Agriculture in Canada (the Framework). The Framework sets out to improve Canada’s ability to address risks and emergencies along the continuum from prevention to recovery, therefore strengthening the resilience, sustainability and competitiveness of the agriculture sector.
Click here to view the framework.