Local livestock evacuation team planned

RENO, Nev (KOLO) - When residents are told to evacuate, they try to take everything that is near and dear to them. That can include a pet that is hundreds, if not more than a thousand pounds. Washoe County Animal Services is developing a program to make large animal evacuations more efficient and timely during disasters.

Pictures of residents trying frantically to save horses from flood waters underscore how dangerous large animals are to move for the animals and the people trying to help.

Here in Northern Nevada that doesn't stop people from volunteering their trucks and trailers, and heading to trouble spots.

“This is true, we have a large horse-owning and livestock-owning population in Northern Nevada. And typically when disaster strikes, people want to support their community, their friends and family and other fellow people that have horses and livestock in their community. And they will often show up in droves to where the scene of the emergency is to try and help,” says Shyanne Schull with Washoe County Regional Animal Services.

But Schull says there is a better, safer, more efficient way to evacuate large animals in times of disaster. It's called a Livestock Evacuation Team--the volunteers will be uniformly trained on how to work with Animal Control, the incident commander and each other.

Such classes are taught at Maplewood Stables for Washoe County Search and Rescue and other agencies that may be in a situation where large animals need to be moved quickly.

Schull says she anticipates Livestock Evacuation Team members to meet at Maplewood as well for more intensive training. Once they and their trucks and trailers are certified, they will be on call and ready to go

“Our dispatchers are going to try and contact the volunteers on the list that are able and willing to respond. And we will send them to the location of wherever that place is we're staging, and then we will ask them to come in and assist our staff with the evacuation of animals,” says Schull.

Schull says team members should be in CERT, law enforcement, or from a fire agency, or be an animal services tier 3 volunteer to be a member of the Livestock Evacuation Team.

She hopes to start classes in the next six months.

If you are interested in participating in the livestock evacuation program contact program coordinator Karen Stark at
kstark@washoecounty.us or call 775-353-8917.