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Intense heat wave adds to challenges for C.O. ranchers, working to protect animals

(Update: video added)

Threats of animal dehydration and wildfire affect the daily routines

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Record-breaking high temperatures in Central Oregon are forcing ranchers to shift into high gear to protect their animals from the heat -- and quite possibly, the threat of potential wildfires.

For ranchers at Crescent Moon Ranch Alpacas in Terrebonne and Equine Outreach Horse Rescue in Bend, the intense heat has brought an even more intense workload, and it's become difficult to protect the animals from dehydration.

Crescent Moon owner Scott Miller told NewsChannel 21, "Water is being topped off all day long, into the night, first thing in the morning."

Miller and his wife, Debbie, shower the alpacas down regularly, bring the animals in earlier and spend more time tending to the mothers and newborn alpacas.

At Equine Outreach, volunteers like Arie Pilz have to pay even closer attention to the horses.

"We're looking for horses with labored breathing, and looking for horses laying down for longer periods," Pilz said.

Volunteers are also working earlier hours to beat the sun, constantly refilling water troughs, bringing in buckets of ice blocks and showering the horses several times a day.

However, as concerns grow over the health of the animals, both Miller and Pilz face a more imminent threat: wildfires.

"Sadly, most of us have lived through evacuations, and we hope to not do it again -- but we're ready it we have to," Pilz said.

Pilz is running fire drills with the horses at Equine Outreach, haltering them and getting them comfortable with being loaded into trailers, in case a fire breaks out nearby.

Miller plans to push his alpacas deeper into the pasture, and redirect his irrigation lines.

Both say the Central Oregon rancher community is one that rallies together to help others, and with just a call, many others will pitch in and lend a hand. Some even have taken to Facebook to offer resources to others who might need to move larger animals to new pastures.

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Environment / Fire / Local News / News / Top Stories / video - DO NOT USE / Weather
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.



  1. I am curious what is being done to alleviate the suffering in the heat for the rodeo livestock and all the dairy and feedlot operations. Many of these animals are made to stand in feedlots and pens without any shade or other relief from the heat.

      1. I guess that is funny if you aren’t the animal feeling every bit of physical pain, anxiety, and emotional distress that humans do, probably more than, like in your case. I don’t eat cows half baked or not b/c I won’t be party to the inhumane and filthy conditions these animals must exist in. What is in my food matters to me.

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