All over the news you see stories about how houses and whole areas have been saved by tough locals fighting for their neighbors. Not to be denied, animals received the same treatment during evacuations and still do today. Our local Santa Cruz County Horseman’s Association (SCCHA) members have done an amazing job on multiple levels.

First, more than a decade ago SCCHA members had the foresight to organize and train groups of ham operators, navigators and equestrians who drive trailers to run animal evacuations should disaster strike the Santa Cruz area. The group is called Santa Cruz County Equestrian Evacuation and is made up of 165 Registered OES Trained Disaster Workers with horse trailers and trucks, 35 Amateur Radio Evac Members (Hams) and 9 Trailer Teams available for emergency use when activated by the County Office of Emergency Services.

During the CZU fire Santa Cruz Equine Evacuation Units operated with local authorities to pull out horses, donkeys, mules, burros, goats, lambs, lamas, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, and many other animals from the fire. Since initial evacuations, Santa Cruz Equine Evacuation Units continue to work under the auspices of the Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Services, and in cooperation with the Santa Cruz Animal Services Authority together to feed, water and care for shelter in place animals for families who could not safely go home to pull them out.

SCCHA has a history of opening its gates for evacuated animals. Now SCCHA grounds have been converted to accommodate the PG&E basecamp hosting one of the largest campaigns to get our mountain in working order again. THANK YOU SCCHA Board for making the tough decisions and members for your unyielding and continuous dedication to your community. We are lucky to have you in our lives.

For more information on those who have helped families and their animals: http://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/Departments/EmergencyServices.aspx

Kristin Praly Owner operator of Sense Education and Advocacy grateful member of SCCHA, Santa Cruz Equine Evacuation Unit, and local for over 25 years.

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