KBR Safety Information Sheet

Recovering Your Missing
Horse, Mule or Burro

Occassionally a horse, mule or donkey will turn up missing. In some cases the animals simply got out and in others the animals were stolen. Natural disasters or even severe storms can result in animals getting loose or having to be evacuated and relocated on an emergency basis. A few basic precautions will help increase your odds of recovering your animals should they become "missing in action."


  • Record Your Animal's Tattoo, Brand or Freezemark

    Many animals are marked and this is an important identification tool. Make sure you know where your title or adoption paperwork is located and where on that paperwork the brand, tattoo or freezemark number can be found. If your horse is freezemarked, you are not an original owner and don't have the number, clip, photograph your horse's freezemark and record the number.

    To learn how to decode the freezemark, click here.

    Extremely blurry freezemarks may have to be read by the local Brand Inspector.

  • Get Photographic Documentation

    Take clear photographs of your animal showing all his/her distinguishing characteristics. Make sure the light is good and the color is accurate. Take at least one photo with a clear picture of you (the owner) with the horse. This photo may be key to getting local authorities to take immediate action if you discover your animal in someone else's possession.

    Write the date, your name and some identifying number (Social Security or driver's license number) on each photograph.

  • Document Your Animal's Appearance

    Write out a clear description of your animal's appearance; height, build, coloring, distinguishing markings, etc. Visualize your horse being held in a pen with similar looking horses. How could someone pick out your horse? Burros are even more difficult to sort. Trying to remember complete details about what your animal looked like after it is gone is sometimes impossible.

  • Have Your Information Immediately Available

    Have all your information in one easy to reach folder. A photocopy of the BLM Title or adoption paperwork is valuable. (For adopted BLM animals, The BLM Signalment Code on your documents also provides information as to your horse's description. See Signalment Codes for details about signalment identification.)

    Include in your folder a sheet with appropriate contact information for the various people and agencies you will want to notify if your animal disappears.

    Take this information with you when you contact authorities or investigate where your animal possibly may be.

  • Make Prompt Notifications

    As soon as you realize your animal is missing, contact your area's animal services agency. Their officers can be on the lookout for the animal and they may have even received a call from someone who has seen or recovered it.

    Notify local law enforcement. If you have reason to suspect foul play, explain the circumstances. If the animal is simply missing, point out that it could become a deadly traffic hazard and if any officers see the animal, you should immediately be contacted so that you can promptly go out and secure it.

    Notify your vet. Folks often contact their vet if they take in an at-large horse or burro.

    Notify the State Brand Inspector, especially if the animal appears to have been stolen.

    If the animal was adopted from BLM, Notify BLM. BLM personnel and volunteers make routine checks of rendering plants and some killer sales. If they are aware that your horse has disappeared and have a description with the freezemark number, they can place a hold on the animal if they find it.

  • Cancel the Notification when Appropriate

    Be sure to recontact all these agencies to cancel your report if your horse is found!

  • Contact the Appropriate Agencies

    Contact the appropriate agencies and people that you would if you lost an animal.

    (If there was no freezemark or brand, it wouldn't make any sense to contact the State Brand Inspector or BLM, but law enforcement, animal services and similar local and regional agencies may have received loss or theft reports.)

If you are in an area where wildfire or severe weather may force the evacuation of your animals, be sure to have on-hand a cattle marking crayon. Write your last name and telephone number in huge letters on your animal before it is evacuated so that it can be easily recognized by anyone holding the animals.

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This is not a BLM operated or BLM sponsored site. It is run by private wild horse and burro enthusiasts. We are thankful to the various BLM District Offices for providing the images which are presented here.

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