The California wildfires
As many of you have seen on the news, California is experiencing the worst wildfires in its history, both in the northern and southern part of the state.
As of today, the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County and Los Angeles County has consumed almost 100,000 acres and close to 200 homes in its treacherous path, while the Camp Fire in Paradise has been particularly calamitous, with 125,000 acres and 6,000 homes burned. It’s been a devastating time, with about 44 lives tragically lost and hundreds still unaccounted for.
While many families were able to flee the fires with their pets, the impact of dogs and cats needing shelter has been tremendous. We wanted to give you an overview of what’s happening with lifesaving efforts in the area, starting in Los Angeles.
Best Friends has a partnership with the City of Los Angeles, operating its Mission Hills center as a pet adoption facility featuring Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) pets, so our goal has been to help with the influx of pets coming into shelters over the last week. In five days, we were able to bring in 103 dogs and cats to our center, creating critical space at the shelters for pets who have been displaced by the Woolsey Fire.
This was largely due to our dedicated group of existing Best Friends volunteers, who responded to our “SOS” email by taking 43 cats, kittens and dogs into their homes for a week or longer. Additionally, a fee-waived cat adoption promotion resulted in 43 adoptions over the weekend. (Since cats are the most at-risk pets in the city’s shelters, positive outcomes for them are crucial.)
A call for foster homes at LAAS over the weekend was also a huge success, resulting in 214 pets being cared for temporarily in homes. Another 285 were adopted, creating even more vital space at the six shelters, which took in 74 pets displaced by the fires. So many amazing Los Angeles animal welfare organizations stepped up to help as the fire crises continued over the weekend, whether it was donating supplies such as food and crates or pulling pets into their adoption or foster programs. Those groups include Annenberg Pet Space, Stand Up for Pits, Angel City Pit Bulls, LA Rescue Now, Pet Adoption Fund, Hope for Paws, I Stand with My Pack, Kitten Rescue, Rover Rescue, Stray Cat Alliance, Vanderpump Rescue and more. Many went above and beyond their usual programming to make a huge difference. For example, NKLA Coalition partner Stray Cat Alliance collaborated with Paws for Life K9 Rescue to pull and transport 20 pit-bull-type dogs from LAAS late Friday evening to a training program at the California state prison in Lancaster. Then there are the groups currently on the ground in the fire zones, continuing to work diligently alongside Los Angeles County Animal Care, Ventura County Animal Services and Humane Society of Ventura County to save pets directly impacted by the fires. Here are just a few:
- The Little Angels Project had to evacuate their clinic in Agoura Hills, so they have set up a temporary medical clinic near Pierce College in Woodland Hills. There, the Little Angels Project is offering free examinations and medical care for pets who are arriving at shelters and rescue groups with fire injuries too severe for shelter staff to treat.
- PAW Works has taken in close to 30 displaced dogs and cats to their two adoption centers in Thousand Oaks and Ventura, caring for them until they can be reunited with their people. Additionally, they sent a team and a trailer to Malibu to deliver supplies and help rescue and transport larger animals such as horses, alpacas, goats and pigs to staging areas where they could be safely held until their people find them.
- North Valley Animal Disaster Group has set up temporary shelters in Chico and Oroville for evacuees' pets, as well as animals being found in the evacuation areas. They are working in partnership with Butte County Animal Control, going behind the fire and police lines to leave water and food, and transport any animals left behind. Currently, there are more than 1,400 animals in their care.
If you live in any of these areas and want to help in any way, please inquire directly with the organizations. Finally, if you need help with your own pets, click here. During a time of crisis, it’s especially inspiring to see people coming together on behalf of the animals. The incredible amount of collaboration and lifesaving among these organizations is a true example of how we can Save Them All by working together.
Pacific regional director
Best Friends Animal Society