SEATTLE — The area surrounding Oso is horse country. And along with horses, many residents have goats, chickens and household pets.

SEATTLE — The area surrounding Oso is horse country. And along with horses, many residents have goats, chickens and household pets.


Many animals have been affected by last Saturday’s mudslide, just like their owners, relief workers say.


"It’s a waiting game" to know how many animals were killed or displaced in the slide, and the focus is on dealing with the immediate needs of the animals, said Bobbi Lindemulder of the Snohomish Conservation District.


Several agencies are either caring for animals evacuated from the slide debris and flood-prone areas or working to locate and reunite animals with their families.


Eight horses are temporarily sheltered at the Darrington Rodeo Grounds, according to Margie Bates, vice president of the Darrington Horse Owners Association, which runs the rodeo grounds.


The horses come from areas close to the Stillaguamish River, where a flood warning remains in effect. Their owners are keeping them at the rodeo grounds in case there’s a need for immediate evacuation.


Horse owners are helping other residents to ease the burden of mudslide recovery, said Pat McMahon, owner of the Eagle Ridge Equestrian Center in Arlington, which took in 11 horses and a goat from farms near the mudslide area.


"The animals need shelter and care, and (the owners) have plenty enough on their minds with their grief," McMahon said.


There’s concern for owners who can’t get to a store for supplies because of blocked roads.


"People are trying to grapple the best they can," Lindemulder said. "The last thing they need is worrying ‘How am I going to feed my horse?’ They shouldn’t have to worry about where their next hay bale is coming from."


For smaller animals, the Everett Animal Shelter is working with rescue groups to reunite pets with their owners. Most of the missing dogs and cats have been reported by relatives of missing people, according to shelter operations coordinator Dee Cordell.


Information about missing dogs and cats is put on the shelter’s Facebook page.


Seventeen dogs and two cats were listed missing Friday evening.


"We are an area of people who really love their pets," Cordell said. " It’s a very natural thing that people would care about them as well (as for their missing owners)."


The number of donations has been overwhelming, said Zeek Maier, manager of Co-op Supply in Arlington, which has served as a drop-off point for gifts of hay, grain and halters. He even had a call from someone out of state who gave him a credit-card number and told him to purchase $200 worth of supplies for area animals.


The agricultural community has come together, Lindemulder said, but the animals’ needs don’t surpass the most important aspects of the mudslide recovery: finding the human victims.


"If you can’t feed the animals, that’s important, but that doesn’t overshadow the fact that we still haven’t found everybody," Lindemulder said.


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