The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, the central staging area for horses recently retrieved from the New Orleans area currently houses 90 horses and mules yet to be claimed by their owners. Some horses are still arriving, welcomed by a team of veterinarians and student veterinarians who work tirelessly to stabilize and rehydrate them.
Working tirelessly since the beginning of the catastrophe, LSU field service veterinarian Dr. Dennis French has been the primary veterinarian in charge of efforts at Lamar-Dixon and has coordinated all health monitoring duties with the assistance of a number of LSU veterinary students who have worked diligently under his supervision for days.
"We’ve had a few health issues with horses that have come in that have been drinking the saltwater from the flooding," said French. "The students and I have administered fluids and are working to stabilize them right now. I’m not seeing any depression or any fevers, nothing that would indicate a contagious condition, so at this point I think that all of the symptoms I’m seeing are purely the result of these horses being in a traumatized state.
"I can’t tell you how proud I am of these students," French continued. "These kids have been with me day in and day out down here, they’ve taken all of the animals in, they have an identification and medical records system in place and have been with me step for step as we’ve gone through triage and worked to stabilize the animals we’ve received. "
The LSU Horse Hurricane Helpline center in Baton Rouge has been given the primary assignment by the State Veterinarian’s Office to assume the role of coordinating the ongoing rescue efforts. They have been heavily engaged in identifying horses that still need to be rescued and work to line up teams that can help when the time comes. Drs. Rebecca McConnico heads the rescue efforts.
"It’s a matter of locating them (the horses) and finding out how to get them since many roads are not accessible because of flood waters, downed trees and power lines. Helicopter surveillance would provide a time-efficient way to assess the big picture, but this will likely have to wait until the stranded people are successfully evacuated," McConnico said.