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What to do with your animals during fire evacuations

Getting unofficial help for pets and livestock can be dangerous. Some rescue groups, not approved by the county, can have dishonest intentions.
Horses abandoned in Stevens Co.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County authorities are cracking down on unauthorized rescue groups attempting to help animal owners during fires.

Getting unofficial help for pets and livestock can be dangerous. Some rescue groups, not approved by the county, can have dishonest intentions. But with the threat of a wildfire near, homeowners could be inclined to accept whatever help shows up. That's not necessarily the right way to go about it.

"Most volunteers in general do not carry multi-million dollar policies to cover their activities," said Chandra Fox with Spokane County Emergency Management.

What is the right way to go about asking for help during a fire?

First, county leader said to be prepared. Have defensible space around your home and make it so that it would be unlikely that you'd have to evacuate livestock or pets.

"There's a lot of responsibility and a lot of due diligence that each homeowner and animal owner should take care of," Fox said.

When a wildfire is immanent, the next step is simple.

"If you have animals and they are in jeopardy, call 911," Fox said.

The 911 call will go right to crews in charge of the wildfire. They'll be able to best coordinate response and effective help.

The official help from Spokane County comes in the form of HEART - a local animal rescue group. They're approved and vetted by the county, and make situations like rescuing animals in danger their specialty.

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