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FARMINGTON — The Four Corners region has a new tool to assist people who are forced to evacuate during disasters like wildfires — a pet disaster relief trailer.

This trailer, kept at the Aztec Animal Shelter, can be dispatched anywhere in the Four Corners to shelter pets that have been evacuated.

The trailers are prepared by AKC Reunite and stationed throughout the country. There are more than 80 nationwide, but the one in Aztec is only the second in New Mexico.

“We’re really glad we’re at least second because we could have really used it two years ago,” said Durango Kennel Club President Barbara Schwartz.

More: 416 firefighters hope for rain; Durango-area fire grows 1,710 acres

The Durango Kennel Club and the Rio Grande Kennel Club partnered to bring a pet disaster relief trailer to the Four Corners region. These trailers can provide safe, temporary housing for at least 65 pets. They include crates, carriers, a generator, a microchip scanner and AKC Reuinte microchips as well as other supplies that pets will need.

The goal is to have one trailer in each corner of New Mexico. Lea County Emergency Management in Hobbs received the first of New Mexico’s trailers in December.

“This is the 86th trailer donated through the AKC Pet Disaster Relief program,” said AKC Reunite CEO Tom Sharp in a press release. “This trailer will provide important resources to help the Aztec Animal Care and Control team quickly care for their community pets in times of need. Safe, effective pet sheltering solutions are crucial during an emergency evacuation or immediately following a disaster, and AKC is pleased to offer this trailer as a vital tool.”

The trailer in Aztec is the only one in the Four Corners region. The trailers cost about $22,000.Donations from Rio Grande Kennel Club, Durango Kennel Club, Coronado Kennel Club, Long Leash on Life, The Village Mercantile, Dog Judges Association of America, AKC Reunite and the State of New Mexico paid for the new trailer in Aztec.

Jan Owen began working with the Rio Grande Kennel Club two years ago to get the trailer located in Aztec when she was president of the Durango Kennel Club.

“It’s really great to see the trailer here and ready for use,” she said while examining it for the first time on March 2. “Especially after all the fires we’ve seen in northwest New Mexico and southwest Colorado.”

Just a month after the Durango Kennel Club initiated its efforts to get a pet disaster relief trailer, the 416 Fire broke out north of Durango, Colorado.

Owen and Schwartz said the fire underscored the need for a trailer.

Aztec Animal Shelter Director Tina Roper said she hopes the trailer won’t be needed and will just sit at the shelter looking pretty, but it will be available for communities throughout the Four Corners when needed.

“I just think it’s really important to be here if the community needs it,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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