SB Equine Evac team rescue Odie, a family horse, from the Montecito Mudslides.

SB Equine Evac team rescue Odie, a family horse, from the Montecito Mudslides.


Santa Barbara Equine Assistance & Evacuation Team, Inc., a non-profit, needs your help through the
PayPal/Giving Fund:

HOTLINE: (805) 892-4484
If you are in immediate need of large animal evacuation and/or sheltering
during a disaster and need assistance, please call right away.

Hours after the Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, violent flash floods, mudslides, boulders, and debris tore through Montecito, California, the Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evac team received notification from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and Animal Services that a horse needed rescue. The worried family was forced to flee the fast-moving mudflows, leaving behind their beloved 30-year-old horse named Odie.

The three-person equine evac team, led by Ronda Hathaway and Kathy O’Connor, jumped into their rig. When they arrived at the intersection of the 300 block of Hot Springs Road and Olive Mill Road, just north of Casa Dorinda, they surveyed a scene of unimaginable destruction. The raging wall of mud jumped the banks of the adjacent Montecito Creek and carved through the entire intersection and surrounding homes.

It seemed impossible that anything could survive the devastation and the team feared for Odie’s fate. They mapped the address, but the gate and numbers were gone. All that remained was an impassable five-foot wall of mud and debris with no way to assess the property boundaries. After two hours of carefully navigating thick mud, massive boulders, and dangerous wires and debris, there was no sign of Odie and it was clear the property was inaccessible from the road.

They returned to the Earl Warren Showgrounds where the team conducted a reverse address lookup and social media blasts in efforts to reach the owners. Odie’s owners saw the request and reported his location to be at the far end of the property behind the house.

Hathaway said, “We knew we were in the right place but didn’t go far enough back. When we first went in that area we were so worried. Miraculously, Odie was in the corral with a blanket, food and water, and he didn’t have a mark on him. He was behind the severely damaged home so he was protected. There was only a little mud at one end the corral.”

The team assessed the intersection which was filled with Edison trucks, first responders, and search teams with dogs, and determined that it was too dangerous to get him out there. They fed Odie, took off his blanket, filled up buckets with rainwater, and left him to search for alternate passages.

The team figured out a way to the corral through the upper edge of Casa Dorinda where a construction zone was left unscathed. They were able to take the construction fence apart and enter the family’s property from the far end. Odie calmly walked through the construction site and loaded right in the trailer where he was taken to safety at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Hathaway remarked, “Odie is one of our many rescue stories. It’s hard to believe he’s 30-years-old. He’s a happy guy who’s been well cared for by his family. Thankfully this story has a happy outcome. Odie’s owners have friends in Hope Ranch with a guest house and a corral and Odie will get to be with his family on Monday.”

What We Do
The Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. SB Equine Evac assists all Santa Barbara County emergency responding agencies and large animal owners in the evacuation, temporary care and sheltering of large animals in time of fire, flood, earthquake, and other disasters or accidents. Volunteers are trained and registered Disaster Service Workers under the Office of Emergency Services in California. SB Equine Evac provides education and demonstrations for many local public events, agencies, and organizations.

Urgent Needs
Sb Equine Evac has emergency needs to maintain infrastructure and purchase a new supply trailer. We also need a utility vehicle such as a Gator, Cushman or Polaris, to transport and deliver feed and hay, and to efficiently move around the large Earl Warren Showgrounds.

The services provided by SB Equine Evac are free of charge. Our organization is funded entirely by private donors. Funds and supplies donated to SB Equine Evac are tax-deductible and go toward the procurement of feed for animals sheltered during a disaster, as well as bedding, supplies, and safety equipment necessary to carry out our mission.

Emergency Transport & Sheltering of Large Animals
Upon notification of disaster and need for large animal evacuation, SB Equine Evac establishes a mobile command center at a designated site and prepares for the intake and sheltering of large animals. Truck and trailer crews are assembled and deployed to evacuate large animals to the designated sheltering area where they will be cared for by qualified volunteers.



By Michelle Finley Heckman
Marketing Director for Suzanne Perkins at Sotheby’s International Realty