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Saving Livestock in an Emergency


Saving Livestock in an Emergency

By Connie Madden

Fire Season seems to have ended for 2015, though hundreds of people are still misplaced by the Valley Fire in Lake County where 2000 structures were destroyed and around 1,000 homes are gone.  Many people also lost livestock and pets either to fire or lack of identification of the animals as belonging to their owners. 

Not everyone was notified of the danger of wildfire in Lake County, but even fewer were aware of how to protect livestock during an emergency, and at a highly informative Emergency Forum led by Petaluma Grange President, Tiffany Renee, the audience at the Petaluma Library recently learned how to protect animals prior to, during and after fire and flood, noting that while Lake County has something like 7,000 horses, Sonoma County hosts 27,000 and could face a terrible loss of animal life during a disaster. 

Renee took the matter in hand and with her husband and fellow Granger, Jaimey Walking Bear, brought three experts on emergency preparedness, Brian Whipple of Sonoma County Animal Services, Dr. Ted Stashak of the Sonoma County Horse Council and Pete Albers of the Sonoma County Agriculture Commission to form a panel, followed by Julie Atwood of the HALTER fund explaining how to tag and photograph horses, other big animals and even pets. 

Participants learned how to decide when to leave animals behind in a fire or flood.  In some cases, the smart thing is to let the animals free to find safe ground (so, if this occurs on our farm, I would let our chickens free rather than try to move them via car to a place where they might become infected or infect another flock).

Everyone was given a 6-page resource and instruction packet listing services from American Veterinary Medical Association to Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis and the group was directed to complete personal plans to save animals from fire and flood and reunite with them after the emergency has passed by filling out the workshop forms provided.  Signage about animals whereabouts and special concerns should also be left in prominent places for first responders to see, find and use and several methods were offered including small and large whiteboards.

Check the Petaluma Grange website for workshop forms, up soon, and a video will be available as a fundraiser for the Grange within a month or two, airing also on Petaluma Community Access TV (PCA, Channel 26). 

Julie Atwood,  HALTER, stressed that during fire and flood a great many animals run off, only to be lost to owners due to lack of tags or identification on the animal, she held up various kinds of tags and strongly advised taking photos with one’s pets or farm animals so owners can reclaim their animals.

A huge outpouring of support continues for people misplaced, homes and jobs lost as the result of the Valley Fire and Cobb Mountain area in Lake County, but because many people were not prepared to protect their animals, a great many horses, cows, personal pets were never to be reconnected with their owners and more animal deaths than needed to happen were noted. 

Emergency kits for people were raffled off at the Forum, reminding the audience of the necessity of setting aside supplies for at least a few days for the people in residence to prepare for earthquake, fire or flooding events.  

According to Tiffany Renee, the Forum came about her when she realized her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training could be “an application for our Grange to assist our farms and ranches in getting prepared.”  

Renee applied for and received a grant and may apply for another to help fund emergency fencing, corrals and space to create a refuge. “This Forum was focused on developing a communications system…how to manage people and contacts during an emergency,” she said.

Petaluma Grange holds meetings on the 3rd Tuesday each month beginning with a potluck.  Interested parties may apply for membership on the website, sign up for a newsletter and check out activities on the Petaluma Grange Facebook page