NAPA (KPIX 5) — It’s one thing to evacuate entire towns, but how do you evacuate 800 horses? You do it carefully, with hundreds of volunteers working around the clock; that’s what the Napa Community Animal Rescue Team, known as CART, is trained to do.
CART President Dr. Claudia Sonder advises to first stay calm.
“A panicked 1,200 pound animal is looking for leadership and if you can be next to that animal and be calm yourself, a lot of times that will transmit to the animal,” Sonder explained.
CART is an all-volunteer, self-financing organization that works with first responders assisting emergency services with evacuation, sheltering and care of animals during disasters like the recent Kincade Fire.
Nancy Kerson, CART Field Operations Manager, remembers helping a neighbor during the blaze.
“They had the horses ready and we just put them in the trailer and drove off. And then we’re driving down Trances Street toward our house and we see that our side of the valley is on fire! It was
just like, is this the Apocalypse? I mean, it was crazy!” Kerson remembered.
Working closely with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and under the guidance of the Incident Command, CART says they relocated 800 horses during the fire–and also a two hundred pound tortoise.
Kerson said it was “very difficult,” but they got it done.
Under Dr. Sonder’s direction, four people lifted the tortoise first to a tarp, then to a wheel barrow and then to a waiting truck half a mile away. CART says they must be prepared for anything.
“It is. It’s an unusual pet for sure,” Kerson said.
CART Volunteers are screened and trained before being deployed in disaster zones.