Southern Oregon Emergency Aid helps animal owners prepare for wildfires

With fire season just around the corner, Southern Oregon Emergency Aid is helping residents plan ahead for their animals, in case they are ordered to evacuate. (Jennevieve Fong / News 10)

With fire season just around the corner, Southern Oregon Emergency Aid is helping residents plan ahead for their animals, in case they are ordered to evacuate.

The nonprofit hosted a wildfire preparedness training for local residents and their animals. The organization, made up of over 400 volunteers, rescue animals from all types of emergency disasters.

"We're actually out in the field to rescue animals," horse trainer and SOEA volunteer Mary Ann Morrison said. "That's why we have these sort of trainings to teach people how to handle that."

As the upcoming fire season is quickly approaching, volunteers said this type of training couldn't have come at a better time.

"This is the time to prepare," Morrison said. "We've had warm weather, then we had rain, that makes more grass and the brush growing. Everybody needs to have a defensible space around their home."

For Grants Pass resident Kathleen Patton, it was the Taylor Creek Fire that put her horses at risk.

"When we went to Level Two, I was really concerned about getting my horses out," Patton said. "I don't live at the property. First responders were not allowing me to even go down the road to feed and water them."

Patton said she wishes she would have known about SOEA before then, so she could've had more help and guidance with her animals.

For all residents, animal owners or not, SOEA is asking everyone to make an evacuation plan.

"Getting that kit together, where you're going to take your cats or dogs or your iguana, start preparing that stuff because we're going to have a tough season this year," Morrison said. "We've got great firefighters, but they can't help us with everything."

As a nonprofit organization, SOEA is trying to raise funds to insure their volunteers. Donations can be sent to SOEA, Linda Bacon, PO Box 639, Selma, OR 97538.

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