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Agency rescues companion animals and livestock

Members of the Washington State Animal Response Team rescue a horse from a bog. Courtesy photo

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The Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) is built for speed, comes with technical know-how, and is not afraid to get wet or go over a cliff.

Comprised of volunteers, WASART is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps companion animals and livestock out of immediate crisis and dangerous situations.

Originally founded in 2007 to help rescue livestock, WASART's mission soon expanded to include companion animals.  Currently, the two species WASART is called out to help the most are dogs and horses.

These rescues have nothing to do with the traditional foster-to-adopt operation; they have everything to do with "technical rescues."

"This requires the rigging of rope systems or setting up a large tripod to pull a dog up from a cliff, or pull a horse out of a well or a cow that's gotten stuck in the mud," wrote Michaela Eaves, the organization's public information officer, in an email.

"We end up directly rescuing about 25 animals a year through technical rescue."

Eaves also allowed that WASART's personnel are trained to open emergency animal shelters in cases of disasters like wildfires, floods, volcanoes or earthquakes.

While members purchase all of their own personal rescue gear, the funds WASART receives through donations, like the Combined Federal Campaign, break down to 82 percent going into programs and 18 percent going toward operations.

"We don't have an office or facility, so we can be scrappy about as much money as possible going towards hands-on help," continued Eaves.

WASART is spread throughout the state, mostly along the I-5 corridor, though, there are some responders in eastern Washington.

Eaves then related an incident where CFC funding of rescue equipment made the difference.

A Newfoundland dog fell 300 feet from a cliff along a trail at Mud Mountain Dam.  

"This is an area that has had other owners lose their lives trying to rescue their animals," she said.

A team was assembled, a rig rope system was put in place, a rescuer went down, put the dog in a litter, and then both were hauled up to the top.

"The best part was the dog had just received his water rescue certification, so he was able to continue to help people thanks to the rescue and the equipment from those donations, Eaves added.

WASART's Combined Federal Campaign donation number is 1478218.

For more information about what WASART does, visit

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