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Ep. 080: Why Every Horse Owner Needs an Emergency Disaster Plan: Expert Tips with Dr. Briana Hamamoto

Co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr chat with guest expert Dr. Briana Hamamoto about how to best prepare animals for an emergency disaster and tips for a smooth reunification process.

Episode Notes

On this episode, co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr chat with guest expert Dr. Briana Hamamoto, large animal veterinarian for the California Veterinary Emergency Team, about how to best prepare horses and other livestock for an emergency disaster, including:

  • The BIGGEST mistake horse and other livestock owners make when it comes to natural disaster emergencies and preparedness
  • What to include in a “preparedness kit” or “to-go kit” to make sure you and your animals are ready in a moment’s notice
  • How to minimize colic, laminitis, and other medical issues that frequently plague horses during stressful natural disasters

We’ve heard the heart wrenching stories of unexpected wildfires wreaking havoc, the relentless force of a hurricane bringing debilitating flood waters, or an unusual snowstorm creating a standstill and freezing water sources - do NOT be left unprepared. Dr. Hamamoto shares some simple, but often overlooked, tips to help you prepare before a natural disaster strikes.

Are you ready?

Have a topic idea or feedback to share? We want to connect with you! Email


Episode Resources:

~22:00 – Cal OES (Office of Emergency Services) -

~31:23 – NAPA CART (Community Animal Response Team) -

~ 31:54 - Northern California Association of Equine Practitioners -

~48:46 - California Veterinary Emergency Team (CVET) -

~56:59 – State Emergency Teams mentioned by Dr. Hamamoto and other national support – 


Stay connected with Dr. Hamamoto and the California Veterinary Emergency Team:

*Views and opinions expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Standlee Premium Products, LLC.*


Katy Starr (00:01):

Hi, I'm Katy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):

And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths, and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.


Katy Starr (00:15):

We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western quality forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here.


Katy Starr (00:32):

Saturday, April 27th is World Veterinary Day. We want to recognize and honor those who provide not only general care for our animals but are there when we've reached our limit of helping them on our own. We are currently facing a shortage of large animal and equine veterinarians. The thought of not being able to get help for your horse or other livestock when you really need it is alarming. Who was there when your horse colicked or ran themselves through a fence resulting in some bad lacerations? Or maybe they've been injured so bad, or their quality of life has diminished due to old age, that end-of-life discussions become a reality. Those are not easy moments for us to experience. And it's even worse for someone who sees this day in and day out. Veterinarians have missed countless family meals, their kids' music programs, and so much more to be there for you and your animals when you need it most. Don't take what they do for granted. Today I'm putting out a call to action to show some extra kindness. Send a handwritten note, give them a call, or send a text. It really doesn't matter how you do it but tell your veterinarian just how much you appreciate them and everything they do for you and your animals.


Katy Starr (01:50):

Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn. Dr. Cubitt, it is so good to have you back with us here on the Beyond the Barn podcast today.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (02:00):

Always excited to be back, and excited for our guest today.


Katy Starr (02:03):

Yes, we have a really awesome guest joining us today to talk about a very helpful topic that is something that a lot of us might go through or face, usually kind of in the summer months generally, but it can happen at any time. And so, our next guest is a large animal veterinarian for the California Veterinary Emergency Team. She found her calling in veterinary disaster response work after helping with the 2018 California Camp Fire when she was a veterinary student. Aside from her veterinary work, she enjoys paddle boarding with her husband and three border collies and leisure trail rides on her draft cross mare. I'd like to welcome Dr. Briana Hamamoto to the Beyond the Barn podcast. So, thanks for joining us today, Dr. Hamamoto.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (02:50):

Thank you guys so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here. It's truly an honor to be here and speaking to both of you.


Katy Starr (02:57):

We're excited to have you. And just to remind our listeners as we get started in today's conversation, any of the topics that we cover on the Beyond the Barn podcast are more generalized and not specific to any individual horse or any specific situation. So, be sure to always work with your veterinarian and nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your horse's feed program. Or you can reach out and talk directly with Dr. Cubitt or Dr. Duren on specifics you would like to know. And we will also be providing a way to reach out to Dr. Hamamoto at the end of this episode. So, Dr. Hamamoto, could you tell us a little bit about your background with horses and where you grew up?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (03:36):

Yeah, no, I'd love to. So, I grew up in a very small town in the Central Valley of California called Atwater, California. Most people don't know where that is because growing up there was more cows than people. So, big almond ranching now, or as we like to say "ammond". You know you're from the Central Valley when you say "ammond" . So, really kind of a rural upbringing. Was really big in FFA and on the side was a very avid ballet dancer. So, really don't know how ballet and horses ended up crossing, but they did. My mom was a horseback riding instructor, so she kind of really brought horses into my life. And my sister was an avid three-day eventer. So, those two were really big into the horses. I was very much into playing with my horses. I loved decorating them and doing leisurely trail rides and putting all the flowers in their hair and competed a little bit because my sister was doing it.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (04:26):

But really just, kind of, really enjoyed the horse growing up. So, gosh, I did everything from dressage to cattle sorting, but really you'd find me in the backyard like putting flowers in my quarter horse's hair and riding around and pretending we were fairies. So, that was kind of my upbringing with horses. So, then it came time to decide, you know, do you want to be a ballet dancer or do you want to be something with horses and maybe be a veterinarian? I really loved anything medical and ended up at UC Davis and the rest is kind of history. So, really proud of my upbringing. Loved growing up in a small town. The horse really brought a really enriching part into my life and I'm so grateful that I had the upbringing that I did.


Katy Starr (05:11):

What would you say actually inspired you to become an equine veterinarian? Because you, kind of, made that shift. Was there some moment for you that kind of changed?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (05:21):

That's a really good question. I think I just had one of those really inquisitive minds growing up and I knew I wanted to do something medical. My dad always teases me that when I was like six, I was like, I'm going to be a pediatrician at UCSF and then dance for the San Francisco Ballet. Like that's what I'm going to do . And I think I just had that medical sense more so. And then the horses were such a big part of my life. I mean they were really my other siblings; my sister was quite a bit older than me so when she left the house I was, kind of, left with the dogs and the horses and they were what I took care of. So, I think that nurturing side and the inquisitive kind of medical side of me just fostered into this veterinarian role and has really fit like a glove in my opinion . But yeah, I wouldn't say there was like a pivotal moment. I think it was just something that was kind of in me. In all honesty.


Katy Starr (06:12):

I have seen you talk on some things before, and you had mentioned that you also had a little bit of a different route to get there because, initially, you actually have a PhD in some other work that you've done outside of your veterinary role. Can you talk a little bit about that?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (06:29):

I'm actually really proud of my story. I think it's something for anybody that's aspiring to be a veterinarian or go into the veterinary profession that your life is going to be a rollercoaster and you kind of just have to follow it because it's going to lead you to exactly what you're supposed to be. So, in undergrad I was an animal science major. I ended up focusing in genetics and physiology, was very involved in many aspects of equine veterinary medicine. I actually lived at the center for Equine Health and was their night technician. So, I foaled out mares. I did all the treatments for any like layups from the hospital. I worked on some research projects out there as well. And ended up getting some really phenomenal mentors out of it. And so, it came time to apply for vet school and they changed the admissions process.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (07:15):

So, before it was all about your hours, it was all about how many hours you had, was going to get you into UC Davis and I really wanted to stay here and they changed it to GPAs, and it was more of a numbers situation that they changed it to, which is totally fair and I think they've gotten some really amazing veterinarians out of that structure. But I had a 3.6, like I was, kind of, an average B student but had like 2000 hours of experience because I lived at the Center for Equine Health and so I didn't make their cutoffs. So, I didn't get into UC Davis that year. I ended up getting into Edinburgh and that was the only one that I got into. So, it was a bit of a reality check of do you want to go overseas for three years, or do you want to take a gap year and kind of see where life takes you.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (07:59):

So, that's what I ended up doing. I ended up taking a gap year working in the ICU at the veterinary teaching hospital here. So, as an equine ICU technician. And also, one of my great mentors that came out of my time at CEH took me on as his lab manager. So, we were doing a lot of research on laminitis and inflammation. He is incredible. Alonso Guedes, he's now at Minnesota and he really kind of helped steer my path too. So, I ended up really getting into research and it came time to apply again, and I was like, oh gosh, here we go. Ended up applying for vet school and a PhD program because we had really been talking about maybe I should go get my PhD in pharmacology and really kind of chase this research love that I had and ended up getting waitlisted for vet school and got into the PhD program.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (08:46):

So, I was like, all right, here we go. like PhD. it is. So, I started my journey and ended up doing a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology with Dr. Heather Knych here at the vet school, who is another incredible mentor of mine. She really took me in, I did a lot of research on pain management, which is my other love. Really enjoy all aspects of pain management. My third year of my PhD, she walks into my office, and she goes, this is the year! You're applying for vet school, you're going like, it's happening, you need to do this! And I was like, oh, now I'm going to get rejected again. Like I don't know if I can take it . And she really pushed me to do that application and that was the year that I got in. So, I got in, I ended up doing my PhD and my DVM simultaneously starting in 2018 .


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (09:34):

And that, 2018 was the year of the Camp Fire. So, I truly believe that if I would've gotten into vet school the first time, I don't know where my path would've led me. But those rejections and the path that I took really set me up for this really pivotal moment in my life, that was the Camp Fire where I did my first disaster response and there was this wave that came over me of this is where I'm supposed to be, this is what I'm supposed to do with my life. And had that feeling in the back of my head, kind of talked to Heather about it and was like, things are happening , like it's not pharmacology and I'm sorry. And 2020, fires happened and we ended up doing I think, three responses that year and that really solidified it. So, I kind of decided to chase that path after 2020 and still have my PhD in pharmacology and love it. Like her and I, we've all talked about collaborating on some projects since I'm back at the university. So, it kind of felt like coming home. It's been a very twisty-turny path that I wouldn't have any other way.


Katy Starr (10:37):

Yeah, when I heard about that, I just found that to be so fascinating and just how much work you had to put in to be able to do all of that .


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (10:47):

It's so much about your mentors though. Like I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without my mentors really pushing me and guiding me and shaping me. If anyone takes anything out of that story, don't give up and find good mentors.


Katy Starr (10:58):

Yeah, yeah, for sure. That's great advice.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (11:01):

I would totally agree. When I recommend students go to a particular program, it's about the people that they're going to work with more so than the school they're going to. It's like, do you gel with those people? Those are the people that you can, you know, go through the dark days with. There was a person who, prior to me, she was pregnant in her last year of her PhD. and I was like, oh my god, I thought that was hard enough, but doing two at the same time, hmm, that's tough.


Katy Starr (11:28):

It makes you tougher though. Look at you now. .


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (11:31):

. It worked out. I mean it was one of those things I like did my research in the summers and I like wrote a paper a year, kind of, while I was in school. So, it was like I was kind of just writing on the side and we get published in that summer and kept trucking along. You know, you can balance the things. That's not too bad.


Katy Starr (11:48):

. That's awesome. And so go a few years past the Camp Fire, because you had been working on a handful of fires, kind of volunteering your time to help out when some of those disasters were coming up. I believe it was last year and correct me if I'm wrong, maybe the talks about it started earlier, but the California Veterinary Emergency Team came to fruition and so, and maybe you could also talk about before that was established how things, I think they're mostly ran locally with communities and veterinarians and things like that. So, talk to us a little bit about CVET and then how did it come about and what its mission is.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (12:33):

Yeah, no that's a great question and I'm so proud of CVET. So, I'm so excited to be here talking about it. So, CVET is kind of a product of a long legacy here at UC Davis. There was a team before us called VERT or the Veterinary Emergency Response Team that had been doing kind of local responses. So, they were actually a local veterinary medical reserve corps, out of Yolo County, that would go and do disaster response, like major technical rescues. And they really kind of pioneered some of the stuff in this field. So, a big legacy that Davis has with disaster response and technical rescue. So, when it came time to really form this team, I think the Camp Fire, the 2020 fires and that kind of big string of fires that we had over those four years really put a big light on the fact that veterinary needs in disaster response is a very real thing.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (13:31):

And they were able to pass legislation to guarantee funding for the California Veterinary Emergency Team, which was agreed to be housed at UC Davis in the One Health Institute. So, we get state funding to have this fully functional, full-time, team dedicated to veterinary disaster response in our state, which is absolutely incredible. The One Health Institute, an institute within the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine that has like a pretty big history with disaster response. So, they have what's called the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, which is run by Mike Ziccardi, who's an absolutely incredible human being . And he has had this team running for the last, oh gosh, 20, 30 years and they do oiled wildlife response across, I think they go internationally actually. They go all over and have a really incredible team of trailers and management staff and volunteer network that is able to respond to these things.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (14:31):

So, it's pretty natural to house CVET in this institute along with a sister organization of the OWCN, under the direction of Mike Ziccardi, so that's how CVET kind of came to fruition and evolved from the legacy. So, that's where we are. We are a management team of I believe nine now. We have three associate directors and we're structured in kind of the incident command system structure, which I think is really cool. So, when we get out into the field, everyone kind of already knows their roles because we work in it every day. So, we have our associate director of operations, Dr. Ashley Patterson who is incredible, she's also a small animal veterinarian in emergencies. And then we have non veterinarians as well. We have Scott Buhl who is our AD of logistics and William Burke who is our AD of planning and Will has a big background in emergency management and Scott worked with OWCN. So, some really neat experience that we have on our team. It's kind of a nice range where it's not just veterinarians. Me and Ashley are the main veterinarians and then we recently hired a veterinary technician who's super skilled in all things and especially in livestock, which we're very excited to have because large animals end up kind of being a big area of need in these disasters. So, yeah, we're building a fleet, we're building a team.


Katy Starr (15:51):

So, tell us about the California Veterinary Emergency Team. How did it come about and what is its mission?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (15:58):

Yeah, so our mission, I'll actually read it to you since I think it's a beautiful mission, is to lead collaborative veterinary response efforts to provide exceptional and compassionate care to animals and their families during disasters. And we felt like it was really important to include "and their families" because disaster responses, yes, we're focused on the animals and we're providing veterinary care but really, we're doing a service for that whole community and that includes the humans. So, really these animals that we're taking care of are a part of the family. So, we really take that to heart and that's really kind of what drives us every day. So, our team I already chatted a little bit about kind of how we came about, which I think is a really neat story and the legacy of UC Davis. But the team that we've developed now is just really exciting.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (16:46):

It's a mix of veterinary professionals and non-veterinary professionals, which I think is really unique. There's two veterinarians on the team, myself and our associate director of operations who is Dr. Ashley Patterson, she's a small animal veterinarian and really enjoys emergencies and actually has a background in emergency management as well. So, she brings a really unique perspective to the team. We then have Scott Buhl who's our associate director of logistics and he kind of does all the people and the toys. So, he's building a really neat fleet of mobile trailers, mobile veterinary units. We have trucks, we have a horse trailer. He even has a coffee pot for us to make sure we have coffee out there. Like he thinks of everything . So, he is really in charge of all of our inventory and all of those types of things. And our volunteer database, which I think at this point we're up to about 200 volunteers, veterinary professionals and that includes veterinary students here at the university that are part of the student veterinary emergency response team.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (17:47):

So, really excited to have them on board as well and kind of foster that spirit of disaster response and hopefully can inspire some of them to do this as their career as well. We also have William Burke, he's our associate director of planning and has a very extensive background in emergency management as well. So, it's neat that we have this kind of mix of veterinary professionals and non-veterinary professionals, emergency management professionals, a really wide variety of experience and expertise. We have a veterinary technician who's really skilled with livestock but also is just awesome at like all things emergency. She's kind of keeps us calm and keeps us centered and as all of our veterinary technicians do, right? Like we, we need them and then we have Jonathan who can haul anything and is just kind of our like Mr. Fix it, like Mr. Extraordinary in all things logistics too. So, it's a really fun team. The management team is small, which I kind of enjoy because we're all quite close knit and we work together every day. We see each other most days and, you know, that kind of familiarity, that's just a hard word . It really, I think will translate to when we're deployed and out on the response.


Katy Starr (18:58):

And your 200 volunteers are veterinarians, does that like span throughout like parts of California, should like an emergency arise somewhere that is away from like the UC Davis area, or how far does that span?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (19:13):

Yeah, it's across the state. So, the idea is, and we're still growing this, like we are a relatively new team, right? We just formed in 2021, so we're only really like two and some change years old. I know it says technically three but we've been deployable since last January. So, there was quite a bit of time there where we were building. So, we've been really ready to go for about a year. So, we're still building that volunteer database and we really would love to see that become more robust, kind of getting a big span of the whole state right now. We have quite a few people in the Napa Bay area and then up in Butte County just with the history of VERT and where we have responded in the past. We're getting a pretty good spread now into kind of southern California, along the coast, and up north more, up and toward Placer County. But really, we're out here kind of just letting people know that we exist, we're excited to have volunteers. Anybody that's a veterinary professional that includes veterinary technicians, veterinary assistance, support roles, if they think that they would qualify and have experience in the veterinary industry, then we would love to have them as volunteers.


Katy Starr (20:17):

And for a lot of the western states, obviously wildfire is a very significant risk that, you know, we face more than other areas. But really, all of us should be thinking about what potential disasters could impact the area that we live in and how we prepare for them. So, what could you share with us about disaster and/or emergency awareness in that sense?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (20:41):

Yeah, that's a great question and I think it's ever evolving in all honesty. And I think it's a kind of individual thing, like everybody needs to kind of take in emergency awareness and emergency response in their own way. So, what I encourage people to do when I get this question is just start educating yourself, with trusted sources - is kind of the big kicker . Usually, your county or your local law enforcement will have some sort of social media and they'll usually direct you to those trusted sources. So, for California, the Cal OES website is phenomenal. There's a ton of resources on there. You can actually go in and see what risks you have in your area. So, I personally, I don't live in Davis. I live up toward Auburn in Placer County. And yes, we have wildfires, but we also have snow events. Like we're forecasted to get a snow event this weekend that we should all be preparing for. We have flooding risks, we have mudslides, landslides, I mean you name it, there's a lot of other things out there besides wildfires. Earthquakes are always a thing in California. California has volcanoes, that's fun. Like we've been talking about that one too .


Katy Starr (21:50):

That would be a really rough one to try to handle.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (21:54):

Yeah. But I think that there are some really great sources out there. I would start with the Cal OES website and kind of understand what the risks are to you in your area, because I think that people do feel like, my parents are one of these examples, I live in the Central Valley, I'm never going to have a wildfire, like I'll be fine. And then I end up getting, you know, on the website and being like, but look mom, like you're at a really high risk for flooding where you are, so what's your plan for flooding? How are you going to get out? What are going to do with your horses? What about your hay? You know, kind of different ways to think about things.


Katy Starr (22:27):

Right. And Dr. Cubitt, what would you say over where you're at? Because you're in the Virginia area, kind of that eastern coast. What would you say are probably the more common disasters that you feel like those in your area need to be aware of?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (22:43):

In our area probably flooding in different areas and wind events, whether it be a tornado or something like that, we would be concerned about. And then also snow, I mean in Virginia not so much snow. I say that and then I have to backtrack, in Virginia we don't get much snow but we also don't know what to do with it. And so, everything shuts down, versus if you move to Minnesota where they get copious amounts of snow but nothing shuts down because they know what to do with it. So, things like being prepared for a snow event, having enough feed, having enough hay, because we may not be able to get out on the roads or even if it's ice, I mean we don't get a lot of snow but we do get ice. So, they would be things on the east coast to be concerned about. One comment you just made and I was like wow, I wouldn't have even thought about that when you were talking about your parents and you said how are you going to get the horses out and what are you going to do with your hay? I was like, oh wow. I just think about people, animals, and getting them out. But so many people have the luxury of storing large quantities of hay and I don't even think about, oh gosh, getting out hay. So, I thought that was interesting as part of your kind of emergency plan.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (23:55):

Yeah, it was something we saw last year with the big flooding events that we had, because my parents actually ended up having a big flooding event right next to them and there was so much hay lost and like so much hay that needed to be donated because they couldn't get hay into those animals that were stranded on, you know, the little dry spot in the pasture. Like how do you get dry hay to them and keep it dry? It was a really interesting thing that they all kind of had to think through and it did kind of change the way we were thinking.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:25):

And I imagine, you know, there are some things that truly are like they come on and you had no idea they were going to come. But so many others, I feel like, they might turn into more than you were expecting or less, but at least here, I mean you know, if you're going to get snow they tell you you're going to get snow. So, you do have a little window of time to prepare, or you know that bad weather is coming. Now, that bad weather might turn into a whole lot more but a lot of times there is time to actually prepare for some disasters.


Katy Starr (24:57):

Do it while you can.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:57):



Dr. Briana Hamamoto (24:58):

One of my other really great mentors always talks about like people get kind of burnt out of these like emergency preparedness stuff, right? Like they're like ah, there's just another warning, like this one's going to be fine. Like it's just whatever. You know, having an overreaction again. But if you kind of change your mindset from that to, oh I can take this opportunity to actually practice, right? I can practice my plan. Is my plan good? She actually has her clients and people that are studying under her on red flag days, which is what we have here in California when there's a really high risk of a fire, she has people load up their trailers, load up their emergency kits, and actually practice loading their horses. And then, if they get a big red flag warning then they'll actually load up their horses, go sit in a parking lot for 10 minutes, turn around, and come home. Like that's you know, just the act of actually getting off of the property. She'll be like if there's a red flag day, that means it's a practice day . So.


Katy Starr (25:56):

Yeah. Yeah, that's great to practice that. Are there other states that you're aware of that have kind of like a specific team set up that's dedicated to emergency disasters, kind of like California has with the California Veterinary Emergency Team? Are there other states that have some of those put together as well? Because I would love for people to kind of have awareness if they don't currently know it, maybe to pay attention to some that are in their states.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (26:21):

Yeah, no there are. I'm not totally sure about like whether they're legislation and funded and all of that kind of stuff, but I do know that there is some really phenomenal veterinary teams out there. Texas A&M is the first one that comes to mind, they have a really amazing veterinary team that we actually keep in contact with quite closely. Some of Ashley's close mentors are on that team, so we work with them quite consistently. Because really, we're forming this team but the idea of kind of setting standards across the nation for these veterinary response teams and especially since we are here full-time, like I said, the full-time thing is kind of a luxury , in our understanding a lot of veterinarians kind of do this on the side, as this is their passion, but there's not enough funding out there to have people doing this full-time. So, California is in a really unique position for that, in that we're dedicated to this, and so, we're out there, kind of, trying to help these other teams too that may not have that luxury of being able to do this full-time.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (27:19):

So, Texas does have one through Texas A&M, and they are absolutely amazing. They actually have a really great training program for their students as well. Louisiana has a state animal response team. A lot of them will have state animal response teams with a veterinary component. So, it does get a little confusing in there. You kind of have to like look and see. But a lot of the times if you see a state response team and if you're a veterinary professional wanting to get involved, just reaching out to that state team and asking, "how do I become a veterinary professional on your team?" They'll usually have a section for you. Mississippi has one, Colorado has one, and then I believe Minnesota has one as well. There are quite a few out there and there's also quite a few national response teams that have a veterinary component as well. So, it's out there, you have to dig a little bit. We're trying to make that more accessible through CVET as well. So, if you go to our website or email us, we'll happily help connect you with whatever team is in your area.


Katy Starr (28:19):

Excellent. And from your experience and time that you've been doing this and working with other veterinarians that have been involved with these disaster preparedness events what would you say is probably the biggest mistake that horse owners and then, I mean it could even be other livestock owners as well, tend to make when it comes to natural disaster emergencies and preparedness?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (28:44):

That's a good question. It's a hard question to answer in all honesty because each situation is so unique. I think you can prepare and prepare and prepare but like there will be a mistake made and that's just the nature of the game. That's high adrenaline, high stress, high panic and there's not really a way around that in these situations. So, I think everybody needs to just give themselves a lot of grace if they get into one of these situations and really work together. But really, I'd say the one thing people do, and I kind of touched on this earlier as well, is they make this beautiful response plan, they make an evacuation kit, they have all of their medical records done, and then they don't practice it. They don't actually see how it's going to work. So, when you know rubber hits the road, they're out there and they forget to grab something versus, you know, having your family members assigned to like you're grabbing this, you're grabbing this, you're grabbing this, or things like that.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (29:41):

My husband actually taught me this , because I was very much one of those people where like I had this beautiful plan, and I didn't practice it. And I was on a response, we had a fire actually really close to our house and I was out working the shelter, doing my thing, and he's calling me and he's like, okay, like I have everything done, now what do I do? I was like, oh you should just load it and practice it. Like let's just practice and make sure it's going to work and like get over to me and then we'll figure out how to go, you know, to our next stop which is going to my parents' house. So, we did, we practiced it, and he was like, well we have some things to fix . It was a really great reminder, for me, to practice that plan. So, yes, you can put it all together but try it.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (30:21):

And you brought up a really good point. What if it's not you that is going to be implementing said plan? What if you are out of the country and you've got somebody else that's going to do it? So, yeah, I mean practicing, practicing, practicing, and then having maybe even your person, your secondary person, practice a few times. Yeah.


Katy Starr (30:43):

So, you've mentioned a little bit about practicing and some other things but could you actually share some of your best tips that you have for horse and livestock owners to kind of ensure that they are the most prepared that they can be for a disaster? Because like you said, you know, inevitably, you can only plan so much and you can really never know what to expect. But what are some of your best tips that you have that you can share with us today?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (31:08):

That's a great question . I will happily give some, but I would be totally remiss to not mention that there are some really wonderful websites out there and people that have thought about this and have written up some beautiful things. So, Napa CARTis one, that they have a wonderful website and Dr. Claudia Sonder is actually the leader of that and again, one of my close mentors. She has some phenomenal resources on her website for kind of go bags, things to do for red flag warning days, which you can take that and kind of apply it to any disaster. So, whether that's tornado warning day or hurricane warning day, whatever your disaster is, you can take these ideas that California has and kind of cater them to what your natural disaster is you're preparing for. And then, there's the Northern California Association of Equine Practitioners also has an emergency response team, and they have some things on the website for preparedness as well.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (32:02):

So, I would highly recommend people go to those resources. But the things that I always take out of looking over those resources, again and I always forget, are things like pre-station your trailer in a place that's lit. So, because a lot of the times these things happen at night. So, is there a floodlight that you have that you can put on your trailer to then load your horse into, because loading your horse at night is a whole different ball game that most people don't do. So, your horse can be the best loader in the world but you're asking them to load at night with a fire coming, in a high adrenaline situation. So, I think that tip, in itself, could save a lot of animals. In just kind of pre-thinking, these things like making sure you have lights on wherever you're going to go, point your trailer out so you're not trying to like back it up and finagle it.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (32:53):

Just little things like that, that I think will really save time. And then of course, like actually working with your animals. And taking the time to work on trailer training, I know that's probably a hot topic , but really, like it's something, and I think in the equine veterinary profession anyway, it's going to probably shift toward a lot more haul-ins, with kind of the shortage that we're having right now. So, I think teaching your horse to load really well is going to be a good thing for a multitude of reasons. So, taking the time to train them to get into the trailer for you or anybody else because, like Dr. Cubitt said, like it could be anybody having to load that animal. Same with your livestock, those goats, those pigs, kind of have a transportation plan for them and then work with them for that because ultimately, you're going to be able to decrease their stress in that situation if it's something that they're a little more familiar with, which will set them up for less medical issues when they get to the shelter and then it'll be something that's not as scary to do.


Katy Starr (33:58):

Right, no those are some really great tips and you kind of have something together for yourself. So, I think this will be really great to talk about but if horse owners, or you know, other livestock owners, could build kind of like a preparedness kit for evacuations. In your experience, what do you think are, kind of, the must-haves to include? Obviously, this can maybe be a little bit different for each situation but for the ones that you know regardless of where you're at, like these are some things that you really should have with you and have prepared to just grab it and leave.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (34:31):

Yeah, I would say some sort of wrap kit. So, the ability to at least put a pressure wrap on in case you get like a laceration in the evacuation process, you can quick wrap it, take them to the vet, get them to the shelter, get them to me. I think that's something that's really nice to have in your kit. Sometimes, something as simple as like an easy boot or something if you have horses that are shod and that way if they lose a shoe in the process, you have something for them, can be really nice to have in there. The big must have thing in my book, I think there's two, one would be some form of identification for that animal. So, if they're microchipped, have a piece of paper that states that. But one of my favorite things to do is I'll actually go to the feed store and get a cattle tag, with a rubber band, and then on Sharpie write my name, the horse's name, all of my information, like as much as I can fit on that cattle tag, really.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (35:23):

Like any medical issues that they have, you can do front and back, like that is your note to the world if you had to leave without evacuating that animal and braid it into their mane, so that it won't come out. And that way if they're found running around, they have identification on them with some information. I know some people use the cattle chalk on them, which is fine, but they do sweat that. So, if they're really running around sometimes that can get sweaty. Sometimes there's one that go around like the pastern, which are not bad either, it just kind of scares me to have something on their foot sometimes. But if that's what you have, like just have something , whatever you can have at this point. My favorite is a cattle tag, but like whatever you find that works for you and your animal, some form of identification on them. And then for you, make sure that you are packing a picture of you with your animal for that reunification process, just in case there's any issues. Like just a quick selfie of you and your horse, and then all of your information, all of your medical records, kind of a little like “this is my animal” sheet that you could either give to the shelter and then keep a copy for you for that reunification process as well will just make everything smoother and will be one less thing that you have to think about.


Katy Starr (36:38):

How has that reunification process been in the past for some of the fires that you've worked on? I can't imagine that it's been very easy, especially if people haven't really been prepared to know what to do or where to find their animals or how to claim them or anything.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (36:55):

Yeah, I think it varies fire to fire in all honesty. The fires that I've been involved with in the large animal shelter, we haven't really had any issues with it. I think that, like people usually go through the local jurisdiction, which is really helpful because then they have a really nice record of where that animal came from, who the owner is, and then the reunification process is much better after that. The small animal side can get a little bit more wild west, and can be a little bit more confusing, because it's like are you picking up a dog that was already a stray? Like a lot of the times they're running around, not necessarily in a pasture. So, I think microchipping your small animals, your dogs, your cats, your things , is really important because, and then making sure you register that microchip, not just putting the microchip in, register it, so that we can get that animal back to you. It's been really helpful in the Maui fires, from what I understand, that the talks that I've been going to about the Maui fires, they're saying that the microchips have been really influential in reunifying some of these animals.


Katy Starr (37:54):

Yeah that was a really tough one with them. They could only go so far to get away. That was rough last year when that happened. So, then in the event that an emergency disaster occurs, how does that impact a horse? And it could be other species but we know that horses can be a little bit more challenging in terms of stress. Like what can that do to them that could then cause other problems that we might need to be concerned about and to watch out for?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (38:24):

I love this question so much. I saw this and it was just, this is one of the best questions I've ever had, so thank you for asking this one. Because really, like this is the pinnacle of, I think, why I am employed in this whole space , in all honesty. Because horses in particular, right, like they're "stressy" species and what do they do when they get stressed? They colic. It's one of those things where you look at them sideways and they like to colic, so you try to put them in a really high stress situation. New neighbors, some of them are being stalled for the first time ever if they go to an evacuation shelter, and they're getting new food. Like we do the best that we can to try to mitigate some of these stressors. But really, in these situations, like there's only so much that we can do.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (39:11):

So, that I think ends up being the biggest thing. Like we have the day two and day three are what we call colic day. So, all of these horses start to decrease their fecal output. They start to decrease how much they're drinking, they start to just kind of look a little funky, and that's when they go on colic watch, they go on mashes, they start getting electrolytes, they get more probiotics. So, we keep a really close eye on them. And I'd say that's what I do the most in the shelter is, they have wonderful monitoring charts so we're really monitoring how much their output and input is. And any horse that goes off of that, automatically gets put on colic watch. But that is definitely the biggest thing that we see, ends up being colic.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (39:57):

Do you think on your, I know there's only so much you can put on that cattle tag, but in my mind, I'm thinking, oh, it would be great to know what this horse was eating before it left. Even if it's just like alfalfa, and you know, low carb or something, or Timothy, or grass hay, and whatever it was eating, ration balancer. So that then when you go, sure it might not be the same brand, but it could be in the same family, and you can decrease that huge change in what they're eating. I have, obviously, not in Virginia been exposed to fire, bushfire. But in Australia, growing up in Australia, I mean bushfires, you just live with bushfires. And I do remember years ago, I was living in America, but we were working with a feed company in Australia, and one of the big things that happened, post-fire, was the horses got laminitis from the stress.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (40:54):

And so, then all that stress, and I know like when, this is too much information, but you know, when I get out of stress, I get cold sores, and I'll pop a cold sore on my lip when the stress is going away. And I thought that was interesting because yes, we think about colic, we think about, kind of, digestive upset immediately, but I thought it was interesting that they were dealing with laminitis from all the stress and these horses' feet were sloughing off and it was just a complete nightmare. I don't know if there's anything to say about it.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (41:27):

In my experience, I haven't seen as much of that. Does it happen? Yes and usually in the older populations. So, I think it just kind of depends on the population that's coming in. But absolutely, and that's why I mentioned like we do everything we can to try to mitigate that stress. So, bringing them in, if they come with a buddy, making sure they're never separated from that buddy, they're right next door. Trying to keep them kind of in their own little pods, the best that we can, given the space. Again, the feed changes. A lot of the ones that come in, especially if they're a little older, from me they get an automatic mash with some probiotics, some electrolytes, maybe a little bit of like a calming supplement just to kind of help them out. And we, like I said, we do the best that we can, per each individual, to try to mitigate that stress because horses mitigate or manifest stress in such different ways, medically. So, laminitis is absolutely a concern that I would have, especially for our older ones.


Katy Starr (42:19):

And Dr. Cubitt you mentioned, you know, it would be great if we could add additional information to a tag about what they're eating. I mean, and either one of you could answer this, but in your mind, based off experience or just thinking through what you've heard and other avenues, but how could we set ourselves up from that feed side the best as we can? Like if we know that this is occurring, like let's say we're planning and preparing for an evacuation on our end, what can we do from a feed standpoint to maybe, you know, reduce that incidence of having too much occur to, in the feed management section of you know, an emergency disaster? What could we do as the owner to kind of help with that? Or I guess if we know where our animal's going, right? If it's not like you're right in the middle of the disaster and you're letting them loose, that's totally different. But let's say that you have nowhere to go and you're trailing your horses to a situation. What could we do to, you know, best set ourselves up for a feed?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (43:19):

When we decided to do this topic that was something that I thought of, and I think, for me, there is two completely different scenarios. There's the one where you let your horse go or you kind of turn it over to shelter and then Dr. Hamamoto has total control and you kind of go to another shelter and you don't see your horse. But if it's the situation like earlier you mentioned, you know, your husband was the one packing up the horses and your go-to place was going to your parents. If you know where you're going, for me, something to have in that little go kit, maybe would be a tube of probiotic paste or something that might help with, you know, mitigating some of those digestive upset. But in hearing you talk about some of the first things that you do in feeding these horses, especially at risk, water is obviously the most important thing, and you don't know when they drank last.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (44:09):

So, even having a tube of electrolyte paste, or even a little bag of salt, that you could then put in their feed, whatever feed it is, that's going to force water intake. Because yeah, I mean the lack of them drinking and you know, horses are so fickle whether it be stress making them not want to drink, or the water tastes bad so I'm not drinking, forcing them to drink water, I think, is super helpful in decreasing some of those, you know, the incidents of colic. So, as we've been talking, I'm thinking, yeah, maybe a probiotic paste, an electrolyte paste, or even just a little bag of salt so that you could initially try to overcome some of that. But that's only if you have control over where your horse is going and you doing it too.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (44:50):

A hundred percent agree, like that's actually what's in my kit for my horse. And then I have a little hay bag set aside too that like has whatever feed she's in. So, even if it's like one flake you can at least attempt to transition them a little bit. So, whether you can get one flake, whether you can get a bale on your truck, like kind of taking that into consideration if you can get some feed to go with them. In the shelter, we will happily set that aside and we would love to feed your hay . So, if that's a possibility, like bringing whatever that you can, if you have a little bag of their grain just to help transition them over. I think can be very helpful if you have the time to prepare for that.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (45:30):

I've worked with different companies that all have their own, you know, whether it's hats or saddle blankets, they've all got stuff branded. The one that I worked with in Australia had these really cool, collapsible, water buckets that I'm thinking, okay, I could be running out and I can force them to drink water but what if I've got nothing to put the water in? Because I only can carry what's under my arms. So, think about having a carriable, small, collapsible option to actually put said water or feed or whatever. So, maybe that's something you can get the marketing team on Katy, and they can make collapsible water buckets.


Katy Starr (46:08):

I know that would be a great idea. And speaking on water, it actually made me think about it when we were talking about different types of disasters in areas. One thing that I've noticed that has come up is, you know in Texas also, they are not used to getting snow, cold temperatures. So, when a lot of that comes, for us in Idaho, it would be like not that much, but for them they're not prepared, they're not set up. And one thing that is not always thought of is if your water freezes, if your pipes freeze, like water is so critical, especially in those situations, but even in just in general. I think, figuring out a way to be prepared from a water standpoint, if you were to be in a situation with a snowstorm, people don't always think about that one. And so, I want to bring that up just to bring that awareness to make sure that you have something that you can plan ahead for in case that was to happen for you because that could cause a lot of other problems or you know, the worst-case scenario. Right? So, I just wanted to bring that up.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (47:15):

But you know, we've always talked about, just for a veterinarian, to know the basics about your horse. Like you see it on a daily basis, on its good days, to know what its normal heart rate is, to know what its normal temperature is, during the winter and the summer how much does your horse normally drink? And so, I think we shock people sometimes even when we do the how much hay do you need in a day or how much hay do you need over a whole six months of winter because people, oh my god that's so much hay. But I think having a good handle on, I mean the water one, it's hard enough in a situation where the grocery store might close here, or you might not be able to get to the grocery store and people are panic buying water for their own personal consumption. But I mean, I don't even know what I would do, I've got 20 cows out there. I don't know, if my water supply got cut off, what I would do. I mean, I have a river and my husband can put a pump in a river. But yeah, I mean that's hard.


Katy Starr (48:13):

There you go. There's the first step there . As long as you can get the water out through that pump, right ? Yeah, for sure, for sure. Getting into kind of, you know, you talked about how you have a list about 200 or so volunteers for the California Veterinary Emergency Team and you're wanting that to grow. How can veterinarians get involved? Like what is the process? What steps can they take to kind of maybe get on that list if something was to happen in their area?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (48:41):

Happy to talk about this . So, the first step would be to email us. So, if you go to our website, which is, you'll see a little thing on there that says join the team. So, click that, it'll fill out an email and that'll go to the team, and it'll just simply say like, I'm interested, this is my background, so give us a little bit of your background in the veterinary profession. And then we'll send you a link to make a profile in our volunteer database, called Better Impact. So, that database is really cool because we can do all of our communication through it. So, you'll get on Better Impact. And then you'll see there the training requirements that we have. So, we do require the incident command system through FEMA, the 100, 200, 700, and 800 courses and they are a little bit of time and they're a little dry, but they are very, very good information that will really set you up to kind of understand how it all works when you get out in the field.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (49:36):

Because we integrate in, with whatever system is going on. So, that's why we have people like Will and Ashley on our team to really do the communication with the emergency management that's already happening so that we can seamlessly integrate and best help that local resource in whatever that they need. So, I think it is really important to have an understanding of how that works. We also have a CVET basics course that will go over kind of how we roll and everything that we do. And so once you do that, you are deployable. That's really it. It can sound like a lot, but if you kind of break it up over a couple of days, it's done. And the ICS ones don't expire, which is lovely. So, really, it's just kind of every year we'll ask you to kind of interact with us in some way.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (50:21):

We're working on, actively working on, new trainings all the time. So, hopefully there's some new, more specialized, ones that come up soon. We're actually working on a mental health training as well, which we're really excited about because this industry takes a toll on you and when you deploy it's a whole other aspect. So, that is one of our big missions is to make sure that mental health is at the forefront of it as well. So, that'll hopefully be coming out within the next six months or so. So, lots of great resources there. It's all free if you're a volunteer. So, some cool stuff and a great team to join with a really worthy cause.


Katy Starr (51:01):

Absolutely. I'm glad that you mentioned the mental health aspect of it because you know, in coordination of releasing this episode, it's going to be very close to World Veterinary Day, which is coming up and so it's something that I want to kind of bring light to and I want us to be able to help support, you know, those in your field that are doing that because it is so much work to be able to be in that industry. And it can be very tough. There was a couple of questions that I wanted to ask in kind of relation to, kind of, like how horses, like what they mean to you and things like that. Just because I want people to know that there's a human behind you and what you're doing and, you know, when you're there and they need you to come out like in the middle of the night, like it's in an emergency that's not like disaster, right?


Katy Starr (51:52):

Any other kind of emergency, our minds get frantic. All that we can think about is our situation, our animal, what we're going through, but we're not realizing what we're taking you away from, right? Like you could have a family, you could have kids, you could have, and obviously this is, you know, the career path that you chose, but at the same time, I think it's so important for us to make sure that we appreciate the work that you guys do and making sure that we create really great relationships with you as well. Because if you have something that comes up, you can't call somebody that you've never talked to before and expect them to drop everything and come to you because they could be on call for another situation. So, having that relationship with your veterinarian before an emergency happens, I think is so critical. One of the things that I wanted to ask was, if there was one thing that you could tell horse owners about working, you know, with their equine veterinarian, what would you want them to know?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (52:54):

What a question. Gosh, there's so many things. I think you kind of hit the nail on the head, in all honesty. And that's just be patient with us, because we are humans, right? Like I personally, when I do big emergencies or I have a couple of cases that really stand out in my mind and to this day I'm still so close with those owners. Like I personally get very attached and I get very emotionally invested as well. So, if the outcome isn't good, I am right there with you, and I will also be affected. So, you have a friend in the industry, you have a confidant, you have somebody that's an advocate for you. And to not treat them that way, I think is really something that gets to a lot of us when we don't feel like we're being valued in the way that we put ourselves out there for you.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (53:45):

So, I think you really hit the nail on the head and just be patient. Unfortunately, we are facing a pretty critical shortage in the equine veterinary field. Some amazing people working and trying to fix that and trying to figure out ways to help equine veterinarians with the struggles that we face day-to-day. But just be patient with us. There's not many of us left and we're working as hard as we can because we truly love what we do and we love working with you, we love having you as clients. The relationships that we form with you are real. And so I think just treating us in that way and keeping that in the back of your mind. The clients that I appreciate the most are the ones that are like, so how is your husband like , what's happening? Like, how is your life? How are your dogs? , , you know? So, we're people too.


Katy Starr (54:37):

Yeah, absolutely. And that's what I wanted to just make sure that, I mean, it's nice, it's like a yearly reminder, right? World Veterinary Day. I would like us to think about that more frequently and just showing appreciation for when you do make that call for them to come out and help you. You know, there could be a time where you make that call and nobody comes and not because they don't want to, but there's nobody there. We have to take care of you so you can take care of us. Like it's all just full circle and I think it's just a really good way to kind of approach it. And so anyway, and as we kind of wrap up this episode and this, Dr. Cubitt, you can weigh in on this as well, but Dr. Hamamoto, do you have any kind of like key takeaways that you would like to leave our listeners with as we close out this episode?


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (55:21):

Yeah, I do. I think one of the things is just knowing that there's really cool things happening in California with this team . I mean, if that's one thing that you take away, like go check out our website, there's any resource that we're making for any local teams, we make publicly available. So, if there's stuff on there that you think is interesting, like have at it, we're very transparent in what we're doing and we're really here to help. So, that's one thing. And then I think there's probably a subsection of listeners, I would hope, that have been thinking about getting involved in disaster response. And I would really encourage you to do it. I really think it's the most special place, once you get into the atmosphere. It's really hard to describe because there's this weird aura of, you know, devastation and loss, but there's this overwhelming feeling of gratitude out there. The people that you are taking care of these animals, they're just so grateful. There's such a purpose in what we do and we get to really go out there and kind of fully dive into that side of us, as veterinarians, and taking care of these animals for these people that are having the worst day of their life. So, I think I would encourage you to email CVET, email whatever state team you have, if you just want to get involved, just do it. It's really, it's an incredible place in veterinary medicine.


Katy Starr (56:41):

That's excellent. Dr. Cubitt, do you have any additional words?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (56:44):

Well, what I'm thinking is, obviously, I do a little bit of work in California, but we do have listeners all over the country and there are different types of disasters everywhere, but Dr. Hamamoto has mentioned several really good publications, so hopefully we can share a lot of those on our page as well, even if it's just about a preparedness kit that you have. I mean, look, New England into Vermont was ravaged by flooding last year and I'm sure a lot of people had to evacuate themselves, their dogs, cats, whatever, horses. And I'm not sure what access to kind of materials for disaster preparedness they have. So, I think that even though Dr. Hamamoto is in California and the team is in California, I look at our conversation today as a template for what other areas could do. And I think that a lot of the information that you have could actually really transcend different groups, different states. So, I think there's a lot of really interesting information we could share.


Katy Starr (57:44):

Definitely. And I'll be sure to include a lot of those things that we did talk about today in our show notes with links, so it's easy for any of our listeners to go through and find that information that they, just to at least give them a start. So, that'll be really great. As we close out this episode to our listeners, we want to thank you for being here. We really hope you appreciated this topic and hopefully it helps set you up to be better prepared for a potential disaster that could happen in your area. If you have other topic ideas that you would like us to talk about, please reach out to us at, and we would love to hear from you. And other than that, Dr. Cubitt, thank you for being here and being on today. And Dr. Hamamoto, thank you so much for your time and your expertise in this topic that we could give to our listeners. We appreciate your time. 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (58:38):

Thank you.


Dr. Briana Hamamoto (58:38):

Thank you for having me.


Katy Starr (58:41):

Thanks for listening to the Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.



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