Lyon's animal evacuation plan passes test

Funny thing about a horse: If it doesn't want to move, it won't.

Lyon County Animal Control's emergency evacuation volunteers found that out Monday evening as they tried to take animals out of the path of the Linehan Complex fire.

"There were four or five places where we couldn't get the horses out because they were not trained properly to a halter," said Animal Control Officer Rick Smith, who is the county's emergency management coordinator for animal safety.

Lee Blomquist, Shirley Allen and about a dozen more volunteers removed three horses, five dogs, two goats and four parakeets from the area of the fire, bringing to fruition something Lyon County Animal Control had worked on for more than a year - an animal evacuation plan.

The horses were the biggest glitch, Smith said.

"My word of advice to anyone who has horses is, make sure your horse knows what a halter is and what a trailer is," Blomquist said. "The ones that would load, they are gone, but the ones that wouldn't load, they're still up there. One house had three mustangs and we didn't get near enough to them to evacuate them."

The dogs and birds were taken to Dr. Mary Minor's veterinary office in Dayton, and the horses and goats to the Dayton Fairgrounds, Blomquist said.

Overall, Smith was satisfied with the animal evacuation operation, which he said lasted from about 4 to 11 p.m. He said a special line was set up for the animal evacuation and the phone was ringing almost constantly.

"We received over 100 calls from people calling to assist and place animals if we needed to," he said. "It was encouraging."

Though things went smoothly, Smith said he would have liked to have had more volunteers.

"We are in need of more people to be available to get animals out," he said.

Animal Control officer Nonie Higley said wild horses were not threatened.

"Mustangs have a great ability to survive, and if they smell that smoke in the air, they head in the opposite direction," she said. "Mustangs are usually the last things we have to worry about."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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