Horse owners in some Idaho counties could receive help in emergency situations thanks to a group of volunteers who will help local sheriff departments enforce mandatory evacuation orders.
In August, the Soda Wildfire consumed more than 280,000 acres of rangeland in southwest Idaho. Officials called for mandatory evacuations, but when it came to their animals, owners had to provide their own transportation out of danger zones. Since then members of the Portneuf River Back Country Horsemen devised a plan that allows first responders to call in volunteers to help move horses to designated evacuation sites.
“In a mandatory evacuation, many horse owners just don’t have their own trailers to get the horses out of the fire, flood, or other danger zones,” said Barry Cellan, president of the Portneuf River Back Country Horsemen. “We can get between 25 and 30 trailers out to help people on short notice.”
Under the plan, trailers driven by experienced horse handlers would be dispatched by local sheriff’s offices to horse owners residing in designated evacuation zones. Once the horse are removed, the volunteers would maintain documents describing each evacuated horse and where it will reside until the evacuation order is lifted. Volunteers would also care for the evacuated animals until the owners can retrieve them, Cellan said.
“The point is to give horse owners peace of mind so they can concentrate on evacuating themselves and their families,” he said.
But horse owners aren’t the only ones such a plan will benefit. First responders will appreciate the help, too, said Power County, Idaho,