As Wildfires Still Rage in California, Pet Charities Need Help
The images on the news are hard to bear: walls of flame, family homes reduced to smoking piles of grey ash, bewildered animals with burned paws being tended to by veterinarians.
In Northern California, two massive wildfires—the Valley Fire and the Butte Fire—continue after a full week of burning; they are still not 100 percent contained. Hundreds of structures are destroyed; the number may reach thousands by the time it’s done. People have died, and animals have died as well.
When you live in an area prone to wildfire, you learn to be vigilant and prepared, but nothing can prepare you for the speed of an out-of-control fire and the terror of watching it speed towards your home. I’ve been through multiple evacuations and scary situations in Southern California, and during fire season, the smell of burning wood in the air reminds us not of campfires and tents, but of fear and destruction.
In areas where entire towns have been evacuated, the needs are great. Fairgrounds and schools are common staging areas, people crammed in with what little belongings they could escape with and, if they were lucky, their pets. Those who were away from home when the fires struck can only hope and pray their animals survived, and to those people I send all the love and prayers I have.
It is as good a time as any to remind ourselves that disaster can strike at any time to any one of us, and when it does, we often have minutes, not hours, to gather our things and depart.
All pet owners should have easily accessible leashes, carriers, and a three day supply of food and water ready to go in an evacuation kit. If you have cats, a small litter pan (even a cardboard box will do) and litter should also be in the kit.
- Ideally, pet owners should also have copies of a pet’s most recent vaccinations.
- Have neighbors who are aware of your pets and willing to help out, and offer the same to them. If there is an evacuation with short warning, you could save each other some major heartbreak.
- Let rescue workers know you have animals in the house. The ASPCA has a free safety pack so you can place a sticker on your front window alerting personnel that animals are in the home.
The needs in Lake County will be great in the upcoming weeks. If you would like to donate to a local animal care organization providing direct care to those who need it most, here are some places that are helping:
Wine Country Animal Lovers is a 501©3 organization on the ground at the Napa County Fairgrounds evacuation center, helping both large and small animals.
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has been on the ground and taken in about 20 burned animals so far. They have a fund earmarked for fire victims.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang