Riverside County residents who have experience handling horses and working around livestock — or want to give it a try — are needed for an all-volunteer unit attached to the Department of Animal Services, which will be hosting a recruiting seminar Saturday.

The agency will hold an orientation for prospective Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue System — REARS — volunteers. The daylong meeting and workshop begin at 9 a.m. at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter, 6851 Van Buren Blvd., Jurupa Valley.

“For more than 10 years, these dedicated volunteers have been an amazing resource for us and county residents during crisis events,” Department of Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer said. “We are very fortunate to work with so many generous people.”

According to Mayer, REARS volunteers are essential to assist animal control officers with evacuating horses, cattle and other creatures that are not easy to maneuver. Personnel have been called on to reposition animals during wildfires and major storms. They’ve also provided assistance with transporting large animals seized from properties where neglect and abuse have occurred, officials said.

Volunteers who have their own horse trailers and vehicles capable of hauling big animals can make an enormous difference during an evacuation, Mayer said.

The animal control officer emphasized that the department puts a priority on calling residents who have been through the daylong orientation and certification course because they will be best equipped to lend a hand during an evacuation.

The Saturday orientation will involve hands-on activities, and those who receive certification will be eligible to take part in future exercises.

Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to contact the Jurupa Valley shelter at 951-358-7387, or stop by and register Saturday morning.

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