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Helping animals, their owners during emergencies

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Mason County gets Disaster Animal Rescue Team

P.J. Nichols immediately thought about distressed animals when she heard about a 107-acre blaze roaring through Deckerville in July.

The Shelton resident, a member of the Equestrienne of Mason County, was prepared to help. She and two other members of the Equestriennes had recently developed a map and list of contact numbers for people who have horse trailers and properties that can accommodate displaced animals.

"Within 30 minutes, I had 30 trailers locked and loaded," Nichols said.

The animal rescuers were armed with halters, lead ropes, dog collars and leashes, dog kennels, buckets, water and feed; they were accompanied by a veterinarian. They rescued horses and donkeys, and came upon dead cows. They searched for carcasses for three days.

The volunteers received a letter of thanks from the state Department of Natural Resources for their efforts.

Nichols said she was struck by the fact that no one was in charge of coordinating animal rescues in Mason County.

"I realized we didn't have anything in our community," she said.

In September, the Mason County Department of Emergency Management appointed Nichols the unit leader for the county's new Disaster Animal Rescue Team (DART). The volunteer group is a partner of the nonprofit agency Washington State Animal Rescue Team.

The group has about 20 members, but is seeking more. They meet at 5:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Mason County Department of Emergency Management's building at 100 Public Works Road.

For more information, call 490-3476.

Nicholas is undergoing training from Washington State Animal Rescue Team to evaluate and shelter livestock and pets in a disaster.

Now she's training her team in such things as disaster scenarios, radio protocol, herding and loading animals and making muzzles and harnesses for dogs and horses from rope.

According to the state group, the group is looking for volunteers skilled in animal handling, transportation, communications, rescue or sheltering, organizational support, participation in public events and other skills.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 7, 2016

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