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Group creating disaster plan for horses

While southeast Idaho hasn’t had a very active fire season, the Portneuf River Back Country Horsemen are creating a plan to help large animals like horses in case of a disaster.

Barry Cellan, the president of the group, has been around horses all of his life. So when the 2012 Charlotte Fire ravaged the area and threatened his friends’ horses — he wanted to prevent that in the future.

“We have 50 members and we probably have 25 or 30 horse trailers we can have (available) within a couple hours,” said Cellan. “If we had a situation that warranted it.”

A plan was hatched. In disaster situations, sheriffs in southeast Idaho could call on the group to assist getting horses to safety. By working with the sheriffs, group members would locate the horse and load it up in their horse trailers.

The rescued animals would then be taken to a safe location like the Bannock County Fairgrounds. They would also be cared for by the group until they’re returned to their owners.

The plan relies solely on the group’s willingness to help.

“You’ll find that horse people generally are very giving and polite people,” said Darrell Beard, the group’s vice president. “They’re willing to help and that’s what we’re doing.”

Dan Hughes, a member of the Portneuf River Back Country Horsemen, said the group has access to a lot of resources since many of the members don’t have as many traditional time constrictions.

“We’ve got a lot of people that own their own businesses,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of retired people, so we’ve got people that aren’t tethered to a 9-to-5 job.”

While the plan is still in development, the hope is to never use it.

“We never want to have anybody have a problem, but if there is a problem then we have one more resource,” said Cellan.

The plan will only apply to large animals like horses, not smaller ones like cats or dogs.

The Portneuf River Country Horsemen will present their plan at the Back Country Horsemen of Idaho’s state directors meeting on Saturday, Sept. 26. It will be hosted in Pocatello for the first time at the Bannock County UI Extension office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is open and free to the public.

Cellan said people are always welcome to join the group, even if you don’t own a horse. You can call him at 208-237-9441 for more information.

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