By Valerie Stephan
The fires that raged across Oregon affected many people. But what about those with large animals?
Most people with livestock had to get up and go as fast as they could, leaving some pets behind. Even for the more fortunate people who did have time to take their animals and get them out of the fire zone, they had nowhere to take them. There were some facilities open for taking evacuated animals but with the widespread nature of the fires, those facilities were filling up quickly. That’s when the Lake Oswego Hunt Club stepped in to help.
It started with helping close friends who evacuated, but quickly escalated into something bigger than that. On Tuesday September 8th, some of my friends and I went out to the barn to ride. We were quickly informed by the staff that they were taking in evacuees, animals and people. We spent an hour waiting for trailers to show up and finally they did. I was there for over eight hours helping.. The next day, after school I showed up at the barn and couldn’t believe what I saw. There were people sleeping in their cars and some who had been about to bring their RVs to stay in while away from home.
The Hunt Club received many generous donations from people around the Lake Oswego area, including businesses like Olive Garden, Bellagios Pizza, Wilco Farm store and Gallops Saddlery to help support those who had fled from their homes.
The Club ended up temporarily housing 107 horses in a 57 horse barn during the worst of the fires. It was a lot of work, especially because there weren’t many staff to help keep everything clean and running smoothly. We started asking for volunteers to help make sure we could keep helping those who needed it. It was surprising to see the volunteers who came to help. Everyone was very helpful and made the work so much easier. All my friends and I worked every day after school and all day on the weekends. After a couple of weeks, the horses slowly started to go home. It made everyone happy to have been able to help, then see evacuees able to return back home.
If you’d like to see more, click here to see the story on KOIN 6.