p dir=”ltr”>South County residents have been working to help horses, goats, cats and dogs that have been victims of the massive Wine County fires in Sonoma and Napa.
Based at New Dawn Equine Rescue Sanctuary and the Silva Ranches Feed Store in San Martin, the rescuers have filled 22 truckloads with supplies for thousands of newly homeless pets, livestock and their owners.
“It’s been a little hectic,” said Katelyn Hayes, 29, a San Martin resident and founder and president of New Dawn, who has received donations from the feed store and the community.
p dir=”ltr”>“My first trip included 30 bales of hay, 45 bags of grain, chicken feed, dog food and lots of other things they need. We had so much stuff it was bulging out of the sides of the trailer.”
Hayes and Jenny Mosher, of Gilroy, first focused on the biggest victims.
“Our focus has been on large animals and livestock, but we’re also bringing some supplies for volunteers since they’re often staying up all night,” Hayes said.
The rapid spread of the fire rushed through and destroyed grasslands used as grazing grounds for livestock, leaving scarce food sources. To help fill the void, Hayes and Mosher have delivered tons of straw, hay and other grains for cattle to eat.
p dir=”ltr”>“I did a live video on Friday of three Clydesdales in a round pen and everything around them was gone; their house, barn and all of their feed,” Hayes said. “That’s why we’re trying to keep the donations going. Even after the fire is done, people will have nothing to go back to.”
As of now, Hayes and Mosher are not bringing in rescue animals, but if the need arises, they will keep their doors open. Funding, however, is a constant struggle.
“The ups and downs of funding are the hardest,” Hayes said. “The winter can be hard for us because I think a lot of people back off because of Christmas and taxes that are coming up. We’ve been fortunate that the community has backed us up since the beginning.”
Hayes founded New Dawn Equine Rescue three and a half years ago after getting her first rescue horse, Jax. Jax, was a skinny horse whose owner was in the process of sending it to slaughter before Hayes intervened. Five years later, a healthy and happy Jax has since been adopted by a loving new family. The experience motivated her to help other elderly and neglected horses in need.
“It’s a lot different than cats and dogs you can’t just drop them off at the shelter,” Hayes said.
Starting her day at 4:30am, her duties include feeding the horses three times a day, cleaning, grooming and caring for the individual needs and personalities of her horses. Given the difficulty in caring for horses, the challenge for those caring for horses and livestock affected by the fire has been immense.
“It is a lot of work, so I give a lot of credit to the people who are volunteering at these facilities overnight,” Hayes said. “It’s a lot of chaos.”
The media attention has helped to fuel donations. After appearing on Action 8 News last Friday, a surge of donations came through thanks to the notice.
“It really helped,” Hayes said. “We directed people to call Silva Feed and Seed. Just call them and tell them you want to donate. They’ve been so amazing and super cooperative.”
This has not been Hayes and Mosher’s first go around helping during times of natural disasters. They’ve assisted animals in need during the Loma and Butte fires and with horses stranded by flooding in San Jose over the winter among other disasters. Each time, Silva Feed Store has helped to organize donations.
As the fire continues to blaze to the north another has broken out at Bear Creek near Boulder Creek, so donations are still needed. Donations can be made by calling Silva Feed Store at 408-683-2348. Food and medical supplies are encouraged and contributors are invited to visit newdawnequinerescue.com for details.