The Florida Agricultural Center & Horse Park (FHP) located in Ocala, Florida is currently providing shelter and boarding for 126 horses displaced due to the imminent threat of Hurricane Irma. After receiving the initial inquiry last week, FHP immediately began to accept evacuees. The facility can host up to 160 horses at capacity and encourages those seeking lodging for their horses to make reservations immediately. In addition to these stalls, 37 recreational vehicle/trailer hookups with electric and water are available. While reservations are required, the FHP presently is not charging a reservation fee during an emergency of this magnitude.
“It is a privilege that we have the opportunity to serve the equine community. We feel like it is part of our mission to use the resources we have been given to help the public,” said Jim Payton, Executive Director of the FHP.
“I’m thrilled that our facility has the ability to provide a safe place for horses in need of shelter. The Florida Agricultural Center & Horse Park is fortunate to have received state funding to successfully upgrade its infrastructure, which has allowed the facility to serve as a place of refuge for the equestrian community,” said Carol Dover, Chair of the FHP and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.
“We were in Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and remember the devastation. It was awful, with loose and mangled horses. These horses are an important part of our family and we want to do our best to make sure they are safe. This time, we’re seeking shelter inland and evacuating 7 horses to the Florida Horse Park. Throughout this whole process, the FHP has been so pleasant and accommodating. They’ve made the process so much easier and less stressful,” said Jessica Merritt, a Hurricane Irma Evacuee from near Homestead.
For availability and reservations, contact the Tenley Struhs, Assistant Executive Director at 352-307-6699.
For additional equine evacuation relocation opportunities, visit the EVAC database which provides an online resource for information about available locations and facilities for the temporary relocation of horses.
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