As fire season bears down on Santa Clarita, the Gentle Barn EARS program has some reminders for farm animal owners in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The Gentle Barn is a local nonprofit that offers help in emergencies and promotes preparations in the community. The barn should not be contacted directly for evacuation or animal emergencies as its services are dispatched according to fire department and sheriff officials.
While the nonprofit isn’t a government agency, it does offer the community rescue transport, free limited temporary board, feed, water and access to a network of volunteers.
“We offer the skill that it takes to handle an animal in that (emergency) situation,” said Jay Weiner, co-founder of The Gentle Barn. “If there’s a lot of smoke, a lot of noise, it’s important to know that when you’re handling a distressed animal, their personality may change.”
Weiner had two major pieces of advice for Santa Clarita farm animal owners: “Plan ahead” and “Evacuate when you’re asked to evacuate.”
“If you don’t have a plan, you’re in trouble,” warned Weiner. “(People) believe this isn’t gonna happen to (them) — but every single year, it happens.”
Important aspects of an effective evacuation plan are emergency contacts and trailers, appropriate for the amount of animals farm owners have. “If you can’t afford that, then you call Gentle Barn.”
“We definitely would love for people to be more in touch with us,” said Weiner. During times of emergencies, Gentle Barn workers can most effectively dispatch resources to residents when they already know the location, amount of farm animals and the safest route in order to get to the site of the emergency.
Weiner advises that these measures be taken ahead of time by registering animals properly to Animal Control and communicating with Gentle Barn staff about the animals’ location.
“Understanding the process it takes to load an animal in that situation or that is injured is important, as well,” said Weiner, bringing him to his next piece of advice on evacuation.
“Evacuate as early as possible and you’re gonna get yourself out of harm’s way. Animals are easier to load when you’re not frantic,” said Weiner. “During a mandatory fire evacuation, everyone is trying to get out and it’s harder to get people available to help.
“I guess the takeaway is: plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead,” he said.
For more information or to get in contact with the Gentle Barn, visit the nonprofit’s website or call The Gentle Barn office at 661-252 2440.