I had the opportunity to attend a course on the weekend of November 17 that took place at our Meaford Fire Services Training Facility. It was put on by the University of Guelph Equine Centre and offered instruction in Large Animal Rescue.

The amazing equine team from Guelph was invited for the second time this year by our Fire Chief Scott Granahan to use our training centre, and it was attended by firefighters, mounted police members, and equine trail patrol representatives from all over Ontario.

Being a horse owner myself I quickly learned of all of the situations that can come, seemingly out of the blue, to endanger our equine partners and livestock. Emergencies occurring in mud bogs, ponds, ravines, sink holes, and of course fires can require an trained team to save a life. Thank goodness we have local firefighters who are willing to take on these challenges.

All of the municipalities in this beautiful area are home to many horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, llamas, and who knows what else? We wish that none will need to be 'rescued' but, believe me when I tell you, if they do you will be forever grateful when your call for help is answered.

This training is not publicly funded, nor is the required equipment. Most, if not all, of the participants paid their own way in this course.

What I saw that weekend was an admirable level of devotion to saving lives, human and animal.

I felt that what I could contribute would be to create an awareness of the need in our communities and look at avenues to raise the funds to buy our fire station a basic equipment kit for large animal rescue (which they do not currently have). This will ensure that they are approaching the saving of our animals' lives with the highest chance of success.

It does not appear to be a large amount of money - Smile Animal Society is looking into the cost. Look for us to start an initiative in the near future.

Many many thanks to all involved in making this happen.

Joyce Taylor, Smile Animal Society, Meaford

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