Welcome to our October NewsNotes!
For us here in California, this is a time of heightened awareness, readiness, and remembrance. Wherever you and your animals live or are traveling to, there may already be wintry hazards you need to prepare for. 

In this edition of HALTER Project NewsNotes, you’ll find some important training information, news about 2 wonderful events, and ways to help those struggling to recover from recent catastrophic events.

Thanks for being part of our community.
Stay safe, and help others!
Learning from Others: Journal Notes from the Dixie Fire 
It’s October 2, and just last week, I returned from a deployment of over 5 weeks as an Animal Disaster Responder to the Dixie Fire.
I was based in Plumas County, an area hit hard by 2 very large, back-to-back fires starting in mid-July, as well as by the North Complex Fire last year.
At the time I write this, the Dixie Fire is finally, nearly 100% contained, thanks to an incredible response, with help from some early rains. Right now, I’m looking back to this time last year, when my teammates and I were into our third month of responses in 6 counties to the LNU, Glass, Walbridge and North Complex fires. Every year is now marked by fire milestones.
I am struck by the many similarities between Sonoma Valley (where I live and have been run over by, or very close to, major fires multiple times), and the communities impacted in Plumas County. Both regions are beautiful, pet and equine-friendly vacation and event destinations, filled with part-time residents and visitors; both are rural, with many “one-way in/one-way out” roads. Cell service is iffy and Wi-Fi nonexistent in many locations. Many permanent residents are over-65 retirees and veterans. Like Sonoma County, Plumas County has a deeply-rooted legacy ranching culture.
And, like us, residents of several small, close-knit rural towns experienced sudden, shocking, and total devastation that has displaced hundreds - possibly thousands - of people, many who will be unable to return for a very long time, or not at all. During my stay, my teammates and I moved often and had to evacuate our VRBOs 3 times.
I found myself rewinding many of my own presentations and articles in my head, sometimes helping the college students on our team cope with the realities of life in evacuation – without cell phone service or green smoothies.
I was struck by the level of preparedness of the Plumas animal owners, especially the ranchers and small-town pet owners. Their experiences in these fires underscored many lessons I have learned and provided some new emphasis and insights.
We have come a long way in the four years since the first of “our” North Bay fires. And we have become leaders in community resiliency and initiatives that support other communities. Still, there is always more we can do to up our game. And we cannot become complacent. No matter how prepared you believe you are, you CAN do better—for your animals, your neighbors, your workers. 
Here are some notes from the sporadic journal I kept during my five-plus weeks in a disaster-devastated community far away from my home, but which felt more like “déjà vu all over again” than being here during our own recent events.
First, I was once again reminded that we are always just one moment away from the need for self-reliance. Whether fire, storm, or earthquake, it takes just seconds to cut off access to basic or life-saving resources, for days, weeks, or months.
We met so many people who had evacuated multiple times and been displaced for six weeks or longer. They evacuated with their pets safely, but were not prepared enough  for multiple and extended evacuations, nor a lack of veterinary resources were nearly all knocked out of service.
Disaster impacts can last a very long time, even if you still have your home, and we need to prepare for longer-term sustainability. That means packing more medications, more food and sanitation supplies, ways to keep  pets safe and comfortable for long periods. And having emergency health plans in place, like pet health care insurance abs advance care directives. And, a backup veterinarian in another region. Microchips DO make happy reunions happen and save pets from weeks or months in shelters! Chicken are stoic, but vulnerable to smoke and evacuation stresses. Backyard poultry owners need to learn how to identify health issues and care for their flocks.
Building relationships is the key to resilience, for individuals as well as organizations and communities. Agencies are getting better at this. There’s much greater emphasis on neighbor-to-neighbor communication, and this made a big difference in the Dixie (and Monument, McFarland, River and other far north state fires). That said, we can - and must - do better! Get to know your neighborhood animals. Create safety sheds with shared resources and improve your communication plans.
Sometimes, it’s easier to cry with a stranger. Especially when you’re hugging an animal. Human and animal connections can, literally, be lifesaving. Humor really is the best medicine. There’s nothing like being in Safeway when the power goes out and everyone receives a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) at the same time. Multiple times. You get really friendly with strangers in a hurry, even in COVID!  Another lesson “reinforcement”: it really IS important to have cash in small bills!
Being prepared means you’ll sleep better, stay healthier, and be better able to care for others, including your animals! We know this. But it bears repeating.
So, let’s make October a month of helping as well as healing, and take a few minutes every day to ask yourself, “How can I help myself and those I care for stay well and together if a sudden and lengthy emergency confronts us?” Then, act on your answers.
If you’d like to help others affected by 2021 wildfires and hurricanes, see the list of Relief Funds for Animals, Communities and Responders at HALTERproject.org 
WAYS TO HELP OTHERS affected by 2021 wildfires and hurricanes, see the list of Relief Funds for Animals, Communities and Responders at HALTERproject.org to learn about new resources.

If you’d like to help animals and people dealing with the cascading impacts of drought, wildfire and COVID, consider supporting these community-based funds and services.
We select programs that focus on immediate relief and critical services for displaced animals and families, keeping animals and families together, continuity of agricultural operations, and responder wellness.