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Mono pets to get emergency crisis care

December 3, 2013

Mono County pets that would need emergency care in a natural disaster crisis have help on the way.

RedRover, a Sacramento-based nonprofit and volunteer program, would provide temporary, no-cost shelter and animal care services for people whose pets are impacted by a natural disaster or other emergency conditions.

The deal, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among RedRover, the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mono County, is to go before the Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting next Tuesday in Bridgeport.

In Mammoth, interim Town Manager Dan Holler already has signed the MOU, according to police chief Dan Watson, who is the driving force behind the effort.

“It’s a big problem when people are asked to go to an evacuation centers,” Watson said in an interview on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

“Many times, people won’t go because they don’t want to leave their pets behind.”

Dr. Mike Karch, the leader of Mammoth Medical Missions, has emphasized in past training sessions that in emergency situations, people default to caring for their children, elderly parents and pets.

Watson, who contracted with the nonprofit when he was Chief of Police in South Pasadena, said Mammoth and Mono County are particularly vulnerable, given the huge area of the county coupled with the range of possible disasters, such as snow emergencies, earthquakes and fire.

“I don’t think we’d need RedRover all the time, but when we’d need them, we’d really need them. It’s kind of a no-brainer,” he said.

Watson and his wife, Kathy, are pet companions of a Golden Retriever and a pair of cats.

Under the terms of the MOU, the town and/or the county would call RedRover, which would then respond with a team of volunteers to set up shelters for animals, help in record keeping and identification, coordinate veterinary care, coordinate food and supplies, keep track of all documentation and, finally, reunite the pets with their human companions.

In a written report to the supervisors from the county’s animal control officer, Angelle Nolan, the need for such a service is obvious.

“Mono County’s existing animal control agency has limited capacity, given Mono County’s large size,” she wrote.

“With current resources, the animal control staff would be unable to accommodate the needs of all the animals and people who normally care for them in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

“In an emergency situation, having an agency come in with experience caring for temporarily displaced animals would be an enormous benefit and service to the citizens of Mono County and their pets.

“The pending MOU would strengthen the resources for animal care during extraordinary circumstances.”

Founded in 1987, the mission of RedRover is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education, the organization states on its website.

“RedRover accomplishes its mission by engaging volunteers and supporters, collaborating with others and maximizing the use of online technology.”

In its most recent mission, on Tuesday, Nov. 26, RedRover deployed volunteers from Canada and the United States to provide volunteer support at a temporary shelter in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region in Quebec for approximately 50 dogs and 30 puppies found living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions on private property.

In recent California activity, RedRover provided funds for Lake County shelters to build on-site housing for pets of domestic violence victims.

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