Holiday Greetings from HALTER Project
Is it really December? It certainly feels like it here in Sonoma Valley -- it was 26 degrees last night! And it seems like much of the population is in holiday event overdrive. It’s wonderful to be gathering again!

Holidays also give us extra opportunities to consider the ever-present needs of others. As we know all too well, disasters don’t heed the holiday calendar.

In keeping with our annual tradition, we invite you to join us in supporting organizations that help animals and people prepare for, cope with, and recover from life-threatening events. While our “Gratitude Wreath” includes some of the programs we want to give a shout out to, they’re also meant to inspire you to help those in your own town, or region.

The HALTER Project mission supports safety and preparedness for all species, which starts with us, the humans. Because, as we say over and over, if we’re not safe, we can’t care for our pets, equines, backyard farm animals, livestock, and wildlife who bear the brunt of calamitous natural and human-made events.

Many of the organizations we are recognizing this year are small, rural nonprofits that, in “blue sky” times, provide services such as spay-neuter, sanctuary for abused or needy animals, and other services. But during disasters, they’re ready and able to transform into disaster resource superheroes, providing shelter and care to evacuated and displaced animals. Year-round readiness makes many small but mighty organizations tremendous helpers in times of need, and we hope you’ll support those in your community.

Monetary support is more vital now than ever. However, the gifts of time, expertise, and compassion are also crucial and often make the difference between just picking up a bag of feed and a generating a smile, whinny, head-butt or wagging tail. It’s the volunteers and essential workers who make the magic happen.
Veterinarians and animal welfare agencies report that, sadly, more pet emergencies happen during major holidays than any other time. We get distracted and our awareness slips. Well-meaning guests give pets “treats”.

All sorts of exciting objects and delicious smells are everywhere!
Keep the holidays happy by doing everything possible to keep pets healthy. Use your “situational awareness” skills to assess the hazards around your home or the place where you’re spending holiday time. Remove dangerous items from your environment when you can or make a pet-safe haven somewhere they’ll comfortable and have toys and food to keep them occupied.
A few key considerations:
  • Decorations are dangerous!
  • Many common human foods are highly toxic to pets.
  • Anxious or bored pets may chew on luggage, shoes, toiletries, or other items within their reach, even if they would not normally.
If the worst happens, know what to do. We’ve provided important resources information for pet poisoning, eating non-digestible items, and toxic foods. If your pet is prone to eating stuff he shouldn’t, talk with your vet about the best emergency medications to pack. And, again, if you’re traveling, get Emergency Veterinary contacts ahead of your trip, and keep pet health and vaccination records handy.
How to keep animals and visitors happy.

It might seem obvious, but your animals, small or large, might not be up for an onslaught of petting, “pony rides”, or games. It’s always a good idea to spend some time explaining proper animal etiquette to visitors, especially kids and teens. Plan time to accompany them and supervise interactions between visitors and your pets, equines, and family farm animals.
Avoid a trip to the ER!
  • Insist that guests wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, or boots around your hoofed animals.
  • You provide the treats, limit the quantity, and demonstrate the safe way to offer them.
  • Set ground rules at the start of guest stays that will keep people and animals safe.
  • Check gates and latches frequently if guests are meandering around Animal areas.
While holiday time is pretty much when we take a break from training, here’s a great online “short course” for equine owners on WINTER HORSEKEEPING offered by the wonderful Alayne Blickle of HORSES FOR CLEAN WATER.
The response to our November Holiday Pet Safety Travel and Staycation Tips newsletter has been heartwarming. If you’d like to get or share the complete November newsletter, you can find it at

You can download our “Animal Emergency Prep Guide for Animal Sitters” here and review all your animals’ needs with the person(s) caring for them. This document has lots of info for travelers and Airbnb hosts, too.
While 2022 winds down, we’re looking ahead to the new year and new opportunities. If you’re looking for ways to help animals and people in disasters, want to acquire new skills, or simply improve your personal awareness and preparedness, watch for our January newsletter with a calendar of upcoming events.
Before we sign off, we want to share a few snapshots representing some of the myriad of volunteers and organizations always ready to respond that we are fortunate to know. From us to each and every one of you, sending wishes for a safe holiday season and a new year filled with love, wags, whinnies, chirps, purrs, hugs, and peace.

To end 2022, we are sharing our thoughts about giving and gratitude. Monetary support is more vital now than ever. Nonetheless... the gifts of time, expertise, and compassion often make the difference between just picking up a bag of feed and generating a smile, whinny, head-butt or wagging tail. It’s the volunteers and essential workers who make the magic happen.