Shelters Taking In ‘Unprecedented Number of Animals’ Due to California Fires

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the fires currently blazing in California, particularly the Woolsey Fire, have displaced many animals. The Woolsey fire is still not contained and is blazing through 90,000 acres from Ventura County to Malibu. While humans are being ordered to evacuate, animals are also being considered. Since the fire began on Thursday, November 8, Los Angeles County’s Animal Care and Control department opened up six temporary shelters in addition to the seven shelters they normally have. These shelters are at Pierce College, Hansen Dam, Taft High School, Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, Borchard Community Center and the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. Allison Cardona, deputy director of the south county operations, said that officials are dealing with an “unprecedented number of animals.” She also said that the number of people coming by to collect and reunite with their pets is random and hard to be measured.

“At its peak on Friday and Saturday, Pierce College and Hansen Dam were pretty much full,” said Cardona. “Now it’s fluctuating.”

While emergency shelters have become available, other shelters had to be evacuated, like an Animal Care and Control facility in Agoura Hills. Over 100 animals had to be displaced in other shelters throughout the state. Reportedly, most of the animals evacuated have been horses. Pierce College’s equestrian center is helping shelter these creatures, and currently has over 2oo horses in their care.

“To take in this many horses is very unique for us,” said Cardona. “Luckily we have an amazing equine response team. We could not do this work without them.”

Many organizations are attempting to offer up space to accommodate all the animals in need. Best Friends Society, for example, helped free up space by holding free cat adoption event all weekend for cats and kittens of any age. The nonprofit also asked foster families to hold on to the animals already in their care as well as consider taking on more.

“I can’t recall the last time we’ve done that, if ever,” said Michelle Sathe, a public relations specialist at the organization. “But this has been the most serious fire that I’ve seen in my five-and-a-half years at Best Friends. I think everyone is really willing to go above and beyond.”

Other organizations offering their services include Wags & Walks and Dogs Without Borders. There is also the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, which is a team of animal welfare professionals. They were dispatched on Saturday to remove animals from harm. Cardona stated that while she hadn’t personally seen any animals severely injured, she had encountered many animals who were “dehydrated and scared.”

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