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South Okanagan animal rescue team needs haulers during wildfire season

Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team rescues animals during emergencies like wildfires

The wildfire season in B.C. is dangerous for many reasons, especially for animals like horses and livestock.

This summer, the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) is calling for haulers and swampers who can join their team to assist during emergencies like evacuations from wildfires.

Karen Grosch is the director of the emergency response team and said that there are a lot people that have asked to help out during emergencies.

“During every large wildfire when there are evacuations of horses and livestock, (we receive) calls and messages from people wanting to offer their services,” said Grosch.

“We have a membership category for this classification of volunteer now.”

The animal response team already has a number of fully-trained haulers and swampers, but there is a worry more are needed with wildfires becoming more prevalent.

READ MORE: Dog rescued from hot vehicle by Kelowna RCMP officer

Last summer, ALERT helped rescue many livestock, including goats and horses, cats and dogs from the Keremeos Creek wildfire. The animals were housed at the Osoyoos Desert Park equine facility.

Grosch said that the response team requires that haulers’ rigs should be safety-oriented, and be able to pass a vehicle safety inspection. All haulers should also have working knowledge of horse and livestock handling.

In addition, all volunteers have to participate in a series of training courses. This includes an online trailer safety course, and training in the incident command system. They also have to pass a criminal record check.

Grosch recommends that volunteers also stay updated on the team’s activities, including safety protocols.

Prospective volunteers should contact the response team through email,, or phone, 250-316-0292.

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