In the Wildfire Aftermath, CA Shelters Work Together to Save Pets

A dispatch from Sonoma County.
By: Aly Semigran
A cat injured from the wildfires.

The devastating wildfires that have destroyed thousands of miles of land and claimed the lives of dozens in Northern California has also put many of the region’s animals in grave danger, including house pets and stray animals.

As the natural disaster rages on, animal shelters in the area have been working around the clock to help cats and dogs in need of medical care, food, water and a safe place to stay.

Wendy Welling, the director of community and customer relations for the Sonoma Humane Society (SHS), tells PawCulture that the SHS and Sonoma County Animal Services (SCAS) have been working together to help each other, and the animals, through the crisis.

SCAS is the region’s government shelter and the lead agency for disaster relief efforts, including search and rescue efforts by animal control officers. Both groups, Welling says, are providing emergency medical and sheltering services.

Welling adds that both organizations have been dealing with an influx of animals, including pets that became separated from their families during evacuations.

She says some of the most common injuries the groups have seen on animals brought into their facilities include singed fur, whiskers and burned paw pads.

Anyone in the region who finds an animal in distress should take them immediately to SHS or SCAS, Welling says. Pet parents who have been displaced from their cat, dog, rabbit or other pet have 30 days to reunite with their animal, Welling says. If a pet remains unclaimed after that time period, they are placed into the shelter’s adoption program, she says.

As terrifying and tragic as these circumstances are, Welling says there are incredible stories unfolding daily, including one family pet, a three-legged German Shepherd, who alerted his family to the fire and helped get them all to safety even before the evacuations began.

The shelters have also been able to reunite some of the pets brought into their facilities with their families, including the cat pictured above, named Sushi. SHS announced via Facebook, “Sushi’s parents will pick him up early next week and while he’ll be missed we are happy to know he will be reunited with his people.”

Nevertheless, there were animals and families who were not so lucky, and they still need all the help they can get.

“I suspect we will see more animals over the coming days at all facilities,” she says. “Sadly this is not over.”

Image via Sonoma Humane Society