With nearly 177,000 acres burned or actively burning near Redding in Shasta County, it is unfortunately just another day for Northern California. Counted as one of the worst fires in California history, the Carr Fire has destroyed over 1,000 homes and has claimed the lives of ten people. California, already suffering a series of fires which has taxed its local response system, is also dealing with the effects of the fires: displaced and abandoned pets.
Shelters in Shasta County have evacuated over 500 cats and dogs as of August 4th and have resorted to sheltering pets in makeshift kennels in pet stores and warehouses. With room running out in many county shelters and rescues, other areas have volunteered to foster, transport, and provide care for the hundreds of animals left homeless by the fire. Many pets, rescued from the fire zone or collected from areas after their brush with the fire, suffer from smoke inhalation, singed fur, and scorched paws.
While the area is experiencing one of the worst fires in years, there are also amazing stories of reunion and survival. One such reunion, reported by Today, recounted the story of a cat found sheltering in a doorway with a chicken in an area where the fires had already passed through. Both were rescued and taken to a shelter for medical care. It was there the chicken was identified through photos and reunited with her owners. The cat, identified by a neighbor, was picked up by friends of the family. Unfortunately, there are many more pets waiting to be found by their owners or they are already seeking new homes. Pet owners have only thirty days to identify and pick up pets who have been rescued or they are put up for adoption.
With budgets strained and facilities overrun, volunteers and rescue groups from the Bay Area (and further abroad) are volunteering their supplies and space to take in more pets. While the fires are dying down, the damage and displacement means there is still a need for more supplies, volunteers, and foster homes to take in the great number of animals displaced by the fire. The Milo Foundation and Mad Dog Rescue, as reported by ABC 7 News, have stepped in from the Bay Area to ship supplies, volunteers, and donations, and are still working to collect items needed by the survivors. If you are interested in seeing how you can help our neighbors on the West coast from your home in Georgia, please contact Animal Rescue Foundation, Berkeley Humane or the East Bay SPCA for ways to volunteer your time or supplies.
As happened in 2017 with the Hurricane Harvey and Irma where the number of displaced pets became too great keep locally, cities like San Diego, Chicago and Washington D.C. volunteered to accept batches of pets to find homes in new places. Even if you are not interested in another furry companion in your home permanently, there are still ways you can help out from the comfort of your hometown: foster, volunteer to walk pets, or send your extra kibble and litter on to your local humane society.
Gwinnett County has several pet shelters that are actively looking for volunteers, either in case they accept animals from the West coast and for everyday needs for Georgian pets. The Gwinnett Humane Society has a long list of different volunteer positions, Furkids Animal Rescue & Shelter is also looking for volunteers, and the Georgia SPCA is temporarily not accepting more fosters but will need more soon. Every little act helps when providing aid to pets, either locally or to nearby neighbors.
Looking for some times on how to keep your pet safe during a disaster? Check out our other blog post, “How to Protect your Pet in a disaster”.