Saving Pets from California Wildfires

Bernie, an injured cat at Butte Humane Society

As wildfires devastate California, we’re helping shelters save displaced and injured pets. Here are a few of the disaster grants we’ve sent out so far:

Butte Humane Society: $4,000
The Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County has destroyed more than 10,000 structures, displaced more than 50,000 people, and caused more than 60 deaths, and more than 600 people are currently reported missing. Many households in the region have pets. “Conservatively, we estimate that there will be at least 15,000 dogs and cats (not including other small animals or livestock) that are displaced, injured, abandoned, lost or have already perished,” Butte Humane Society Development Director Brad Montgomery tells us. “We feel it will take weeks or even months in order to truly evaluate the scope of the impact.”

BHS has been working with regional partners to do everything it can to help its community’s pets and their owners. The first day of the fire, the shelter moved out all of its adoptable animals — either to emergency foster homes or shelters in safe zones — to open up needed space for evacuees’ pets and injured and stray animals from the impacted areas.

Ruger, a rescued dog at BHS

“Our partners North Valley Animal Disaster Group, Chico Animal Control and Butte County Animal Control have handled much of the sheltering of the evacuated animals, and we’ve been asked to shelter and care for overflow and a number of injured strays,” Montgomery says. “We also noticed that, because people can’t keep their animals with them at the American Red Cross shelters, many people have chosen to keep their animals with them wherever they are, from living the last week in a Walmart parking lot to staying with friends or in motels, to staying in shelters and keeping their animals outside in their vehicles or in crates or whatever they have.”

To help these evacuees, the shelter established a temporary pet-supply resource center at an offsite warehouse. “We have received literally tons of donated pet supplies and we are giving them to people in need,” Montgomery says. “People are breaking into tears when we give them a doggy bed, a bag of cat food, or a dog leash.”

A burned stray cat being cared for at BHS

BHS has also been providing veterinary services at its clinic. “We are fortunate to have an exceptional veterinarian named Dr. Turner, as well as backups in crisis from other partner agencies,” Montgomery says. “Dr. Turner lost her home in this fire, yet she’s still at work providing our clinic services. She’s ensuring that the injured animals we are taking care of are getting the treatments they need.”

At the same time, the shelter continues to provide many of its regular services, such as spay/neuter, vaccinations, and microchipping. “We have started providing these services at no cost to those impacted by the Camp Fire,” Montgomery says. “It’s simply the right thing to do in this situation to remain true to our organizational mission. Our average costs are roughly $190 per animal.”

Santa Maria Valley Humane Society: $3,000
Southern California is suffering from wildfires as well. As of Nov. 17 in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, the Woolsey Fire was 82% contained after burning 98,362 acres and displacing thousands of people and animals. Santa Maria Valley Humane Society is providing care and safety to dogs and cats transferred from at-capacity shelters in the area.

Dogs transferred to Santa Maria Valley Humane Society to make room for evacuees’ pets

“On average, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society cares for about 100 dogs and cats at any given time,” says Executive Director Sean Hawkins. “In addition, this last week we accepted another 43 dogs and cats who were transferred to us from Ventura County Animal Services and Santa Barbara County Animal Services so that those agencies could make room for animal victims of the emergency evacuation due to the Woolsey Fire.”

Our grant funds will be used for veterinary care of these animals, including specialized surgeries, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and to help offset fee-waived adoptions to move these animals into homes as quickly as possible.

Surfcat Cafe and Adoptions: $2,500
Our grant will help the Oxnard, CA-based rescue group care for cats displaced by the Woolsey and Hill Fires in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

Osiris, an injured cat cared for by Surfcat Rescue

“Our first response is to help fire victims recover their cats,” says Executive Director Leslie Ann Weiss. “We were able to purchase wildlife night-vision cameras and feeding-site materials so displaced cats had food and water. Once cats were spotted on the video feed, we were able to place humane live traps to rescue them and reunite them with their humans.”

The group is also pulling “less-adoptable” cats from local shelters including Ventura County Animal Services and Humane Society of Ventura. The Petfinder Foundation’s Disaster Grant will help fund emergency medical care for injured cats and supplies for foster parents keeping displaced cats safe and healthy until they can be in a more permanent location.

Thank you so much for your donation to our Disaster Fund; we could not have helped these organizations save lives without donors like you!

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