Red River Valley Fair manager Bryan Schulz hadn't planned on opening the fairgrounds up for visitors quite this early in the season, but the flooding situation in the southern Red River Valley changed his plans and suddenly his facility was being used to house flood-displaced animals.

The outbuildings on the fairground are still filled with seasonal storage items, but Schulz was able to clear out one of the horse barns and set up 42 stalls and an additional 24 stalls were set up in the Schollander Pavilion as the horses continued to stream in from flooded areas.

About an equal number of horses were housed at the North Dakota State University Equine Center on the northwest edge of Fargo.

"The vast majority of the horses we had here came from the Gray Manor Stable, that's located in the Oakport Township area in north Moorhead," Schulz said. "But we did have five or six horses come in on Saturday or Sunday (March 28 and 29) from other locations.

"It was my understanding that between FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel, the team from Code 3 and the Coast Guard, they were travelling the countryside looking for animals that might be in distress and the vast majority of those were moved to higher ground or to other locations."

The FM Humane Society used the Schollander Pavilion as a rescue shelter for those who had to leave their home. At the height of the flood 240 dogs and cats were taking up residence at the fairgrounds.

The blizzard conditions the region faced also complicated getting feed and water to the horses kept at the fairgrounds, but Schulz said a group of volunteers tackled the task and several businesses and individuals contributed hay and feed to the rescue effort.

"We were very blessed by having people that were hauling in and offering us straw and alfalfa bales. A few local businesses, like Fleet Farm and Stockman's Supply, also donated feed. People from as far away as Hankinson brought up a truck load of bales in the supporting effort," Schulz said.

"All of the feed used during this effort was donated. And the same thing occurred for the dogs and cats that were here," he continued. "We had people bringing in food, sanitizer, dog toys and other things. It was a great community effort on behalf of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area. Everybody stepped up to help."

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