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Horses, mules assisting law enforcement in searches and rescues

Posted at 7:52 AM, Aug 01, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Colleen Leon's love for horses started out as a hobby, but today, her animals help her give back.

"We are mounted search and rescue units. We are deployed by the Pima County Sheriff's Department," said Leon.

Leon is a founding member of Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue (SAMSAR). Several local horses, mules and their owners volunteer their time to respond to searches and rescues in the desert.

"We can get four call outs in a day, once a week, or once or twice a weekend. Especially when the rains start coming, people want to get up to Seven Falls to play in the water," said Leon.

Horses and mules are an incredible asset to any search and rescue team. Their ability to transport an injured person saves time and reduces risk.

"The fastest way to get out of a canyon is a helicopter. The second fastest way to get out is on an equine...a horse or a mule," said Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue volunteer and founder, Jerry Simmons.

Simmons has volunteered with his mules since 1991 and learned a lot about safety along the way.

"Don't hike alone. Drink plenty of water. When the water is half gone, go home," said Simmons.

Although it's a tough job, Simmons doesn't plan to give it up anytime soon.

"It's very rewarding. You're able to help someone. It's satisfaction of a job well done," said Simmons.

Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue is actively recruiting horses, mules and their owners to join the team. To learn more, visit samsaraz.org.
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