First responders from Napa and Lake counties met Wednesday at Napa County Fire/Cal Fire Station in Yountville for special training in large animal rescue.
They got an opportunity to try the new animal response trailer and a variety of special equipment designed to help first responders and veterinarians achieve the best outcome for animals – and their owners – involved in disasters.
The response trailer was used in the recent Napa County evacuation effort, in which 600 horses and hundreds of livestock were successfully evacuated, sheltered, cared for, and returned to their owners after the fires.
The seminar was taught by Jim Green, an expert in disaster response for animals, and Dr. Claudia Sonder, local veterinarian, director of Equine Outreach at UC Davis Center for Equine Health, and founder of Napa Community Animal Response Team (Napa CART).
Recent disasters across the nation have shown that the human-animal bond is so powerful that failure to provide for animals in disaster creates a human safety and compliance issue, organizers said. People are often unwilling to evacuate without their animals. In a highway accident involving a horse trailer, owners may become highway hazards themselves, if their animals’ needs are not addressed by emergency crews.
“This is really about people. If you can respond appropriately to someone’s animal, you keep them from risking themselves as well,” Sonder said, “The need to keep citizens and first responders safe is paramount in crisis situations involving large animals.”
The new Animal Response Trailer used in Wednesday’s training was donated by Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch and the Roth family.
In 2015, after the Valley Fire, Sonder and several horse and livestock owners in Napa formed NapaCART. In the recent Napa-Sonoma firestorm, NapaCART worked closely with the Office of Emergency Services to assist in the evacuation, shelter and veterinary care of affected animals. NapaCART organizes trained volunteers into a county resource that is ready and able to assist animal emergencies and disasters that require additional support.
Over the past year, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has hosted Green to enhance training for first responders, veterinarians and volunteers seeking additional training in the animal component of response.
Napa CART meets regularly for training, and a schedule of events can be found on their website at www.NapaCART.org.