by Dusty Spitler, Large Animal Shelters and Emergency Readiness
Wildfire season is almost here. If there is an evacuation due to wildfires or other disasters, barn animals have a safe haven. Large Animal Shelters and Emergency Readiness — LASER — is a new 501(c)3 nonprofit working with Yavapai County Emergency Management to provide shelter for barn animals.
When LASER is activated, our extensively trained volunteers set up a shelter and care for your animals 24/7 until the evacuation is over.
The group is modeled after the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control Equine Response Team, which has been in existence for several decades and has saved thousands of animals facing disasters and evacuations. Two sites are ready now to accommodate animals: the former county fairgrounds on Highway 89A in Prescott Valley and the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.
As disasters increase in size and frequency and our communities grow, more owners of rural animals are affected. In 2017 the Goodwin Fire forced evacuation of 7,500 people in and around Mayer and over 200 barn animals needed shelter. It became apparent animal owners in our rural communities and their barnyard pets require unique care, and LASER was formed in 2019.
Volunteers are needed at three different levels: intake and record keeping, animal handling and care, and shelter management. Prior experience is not required. Training sessions are being scheduled now.
LASER also needs monetary donations for the shelters and operating expenses. Donations can be made through our website or simply by mailing your check to LASER at P.O. Box 12782, Prescott, AZ 86304.
We realize this will be a very difficult time to raise funds for animal welfare nonprofits in light of the pandemic. However, we persevere in our vision that “every barn animal has a safe haven in disasters,” and we continue to prepare for the next wildfire.