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Texas Sanctuaries Work to Safeguard More Than 1,100 Animals from Wildfires

Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center prepare for fires and offer tips for area residents.

  • Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center staff move horses into a central arena. Ben Callison/The HSUS

  • We practice what we preach: staff review our emergency planning protocols and procedures. Ben Callison/The HSUS

  • Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is home to hundreds of horses and burros. Ben Callison/The HSUS

  • Staff plowed a 60-foot firebreak around the entire 1,250 acres of the sanctuary. Ben Callison/The HSUS

As wildfires race across Texas, staff at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and its Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center in Murchison are preparing for wildfires and offering tips for area residents on how they can protect their animals, too.

With smoke from nearby wildfires pluming Tuesday over the 1,250-acre animal sanctuary and horse rescue facility operated by The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals, staff and volunteers secured animal groups in specially designated pastures protected by firebreaks, designated corral points for other species and filled multiple water tanks to prepare to fight any blazes. All staff is on standby.

“Our staff has worked tirelessly this week to prepare the sanctuary and adoption center for wildfires and we hope area residents are taking similar precautions to protect their animals,” said Ben Callison, director of Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

Fires that broke out Tuesday surrounding the Murchison facilities were contained by evening, but Callison said that the fires rekindled this morning and staff is prepared for more to ignite.

Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is home to about 1,100 animals rescued from abuse or neglect, ranging from horses to chimpanzees. The sanctuary also includes the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, which is currently home to about 10 rescued horses who are being retrained and awaiting potential adoption. 

The Humane Society of the United States offers the following tips for residents preparing their horses for fires:

  • Place your horses' Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, and vital information—such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.)—in easily accessible envelopes. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a firesafe place that can be quickly reached.
  • Keep halters ready for your horses. Each halter should include the following information: the horse's name, your name, your telephone number, and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached.
  • Prepare a basic first-aid kit that is portable and easily accessible.
  • Be sure to have on hand a supply of water, hay, feed, and medications for several days for each horse.
  • It is important that your horses are comfortable being loaded onto a trailer. If your horses are unaccustomed to being loaded onto a trailer, practice the procedure so they become used to it.
  • Make arrangements in advance to have your horse trailered in case of an emergency. If you do not have your own trailer or do not have enough trailer space for all of your horses, be sure you have several people on standby to help evacuate your horses.
  • Know where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation. Make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses if needed. Contact your local animal care and control agency, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.
  • Inform friends and neighbors of your evacuation plans. Post detailed instructions in several places—including the barn office or tack room, the horse trailer, and barn entrances—to ensure they are accessible to emergency workers in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.

Media Contact: Pepper Ballard: 240-751-0232; pballard@humanesociety.org