The North Carolina Equine Assistance and Specialized Transport (NC EAST) unit, formerly the Moore County Equine Emergency Response Unit (MCEERU) from 1993-2013, was established as a 501c3 Non-Profit organization in October 2013 and officially began operations as "NC EAST" in January 2014.  As 2017 comes to an end, NC EAST will no longer exist as a 501c3 Non-Profit organization.  NC EAST will join forces with 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC, owned and operated by Justin and Tori McLeod, as one of the additional response units available within their company.            

Starting from the past to the present ~


     MCEERU was founded in 1993 when a group of veterinarians and concerned horse enthusiasts recognized the need to address the issue of caring for horses in the event of a natural disaster or the type of emergency that required specialized care or transport.  With Moore County's unusually large equine population, acres of trails, equine event facilities, training and stabling barns, and expansive equine community, the need for a specialized service seemed obvious. 


     Over the years, natural disasters have raised people's awareness that disaster planning must make a provision for animals; both domestic pets and livestock.  Emergency Management officials realized that many pet and livestock owners will refuse to evacuate without their animals, and that abandoned horses may constitute public health and safety problems as well as being a humane concern.  MCEERU grew out of the lessons learned from such natural disasters like Hurricane Andrew, which devastated Florida in 1992.  One of the people who responded to assist with the recovery effort of the horses after the hurricane became one of the first founding members of MCEERU.


     In the past, MCEERU arranged stabling for horses being evacuated from the coastal regions of North Carolina and South Carolina that are prone natural disasters and other localized emergencies.  Once the stabling arrangements for evacuees began to be handled through other resources, MCEERU decided to move more in the direction of emergency transport to better utilize our training and equipment.  Even though the organization steered away from disaster planning, logistics, and response, MCEERU worked in conjunction with county emergency management officials to write the Moore County Animal Protection Plan which was the second such plan in North Carolina. 


    MCEERU partnered with Dr. Jim Hamilton, of Southern Pines Equine Associates, who became the units Veterinary Advisor.  Dr. Hamilton was instrumental in forming the Southeastern Regional Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT-3).  A "VMAT" is a regional group of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other professionals which has been formed under the auspices of the American Veterinary Medical Association to respond to natural disasters.


     The need for an equine ambulance was first discussed when a horse was seriously injured at a popular steeplechase race in 1994.  The horse was unable to be moved away from the site of the incident and had to be euthanized and removed from the track in front of a crowd of thousands.  In hindsight, if there had been an ambulance equipped to lift the horse and transport it to a veterinary facility, the outcome might have been different.  MCEERU members had raised enough money to purchase the first "equine ambulance" in 1997 and in 2003 a new ambulance with specific modifications, updated features and equipment was purchased. Over the years, there have been numerous instances where a fully equipped equine ambulance might have made the difference between life and death and the MCERRU unit was there to make that difference.  The updated emergency response unit was the only one of its kind in North Carolina and much of the east coast equipped with an Anderson Sling and heavy duty steel box frame on wheels that enables the crew to secure the equine into the sling and frame, suspended and non-weight bearing, and then maneuver the frame into the ambulance for transport. 


     MCEERU paved the way for other equine ambulance units to be seen as a vital component for equine welfare by providing medical support at equine events, disaster response, and emergency transport. MCEERU covered events in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia with the majority of the events held at a local venue, the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, North Carolina. 


     In 2010, Justin and Tori McLeod, two local equine enthusiasts who were also emergency responders, joined the MCEERU team and were appointed to the Board of Directors...their inception into the organization was the foundation of what is today NC EAST.

Fast forwarding to the present...


     The year 2013 brought about some changes for MCEERU.  Members of the Board of Directors set to retire from the board at the end of the year, leaving the future of MCEERU in a questionable state.  In September, members of the Board of Directors approached Justin and Tori with the proposition of taking over the equine ambulance as an organization.  Justin and Tori already owned and operated a equine services and large animal technical rescue response unit, 4Hooves Farm Equine Services and the North Carolina Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team, so it did not take long for them to accept the offer and add another specialized unit to their fleet.  In October, the transition was put into motion and the North Carolina Equine Assistance and Specialized Transport (NC EAST) unit was founded to carry on the services provided by MCEERU, and more.  


     In the years to come, the NC EAST team hopes to become one of the most sought after equine ambulance and first aid stations at equine events, a trusted contact of veterinarians for specialized transport of medically compromised equine patients in the southeastern United States, as well as a resource for emergency management agencies to call upon to assist during natural disasters and small or large scale emergency incidents.  NC EAST will be available as a mutual aid response unit to assist other large animal technical rescue response units in North Carolina with emergency incidents involving equines.

Please visit the other NC EAST pages on this website for additional information and if you are interested in making a donation, or hiring NC EAST to standby at an event or handle an emergency or non-emergency transport or service call please don't hesitate to contact us (see the Contact Us page for details).