(HELP ANIMALS/DISASTER RELIEF) Earlier this month, four major wildfires broke out within 24 hours in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The outbreaks forced over 200,000 people to evacuate, and thousands of firefighters were summoned to help.

The still-raging Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara County is now the largest fire in California history, burning 273,400 acres and destroying 775 homes since it began on December 4.

So far, the Global Animal Foundation has raised over $3,000 to help the hundreds of pets and other animals displaced by the fires as committed animal rescue organizations work around-the-clock to save and keep animals safe and healthy.

A view of the Thomas fire in Ventura from the Humane Society of Ventura County in Ojai, CA. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County

The Humane Society of Ventura County (HSVC) in Ojai, California, took in nearly 200 animals since the fires began. A variety of dogs, cats, horses, goats, pigs, and even chickens have all found a safe haven there, while staff and volunteers work tirelessly to care for pre-existing animals and process incoming animals.

The shelter has been operating near capacity since the evening of December 4th, and we will continue to do so until our services are no longer needed,” the HSVC said in a statement.

While most of the shelter’s animals were brought in by their guardians, some had to be rescued by the shelter staff.

“We got a few calls about horses that needed our help since their owners didn’t have a horse trailer,” HSVC Community Outreach Greg Cooper said. “We had to drive right into where the flames were spreading to pick them up.”

On December 13, HSVC also took in an older stray horse who had been found wandering (perhaps for days) in a field off Briggs Road in Santa Paula. Two local good Samaritans helped load the horse into a trailer and transport him to the shelter.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County

HSVC Officers Vail and Winwood and Veterinary Assistant Christina Malleck were able to unload the horse into a paddock where he was promptly fed and bathed.

He arrived emaciated and dehydrated, covered in dirt and ash, and had deep imprints from a halter around his face. But thanks to HSVC’s life-saving efforts, this horse is on the mend and in good hands until he finds a home. 

HSVC has also been connecting displaced, injured pets with veterinarians — like Mike, a 3-year-old cattle dog who had suffered burn wounds while escaping with his family as their home went up in flames. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County

With hundreds of homes destroyed in the blaze, HSVC estimates that many of the animals could remain at the shelter for a number of months while their families recover.

“Over the coming months the cost will be phenomenal and we will need financial donations to pay for the care of animals displaced by the Thomas Fire. It takes approximately $3,200 to operate our shelter for one regular day. During an emergency that cost can be as much as three times that,” HSVC maintains.

“As a private nonprofit 501c3 animal rescue organization we do not receive any funding from the city, county or state nor do we have an affiliation with the Humane Society of the United States or any national animal welfare organizations. ONE HUNDRED percent of your donations stay right here in Ventura County to benefit directly the animals in our community.”

As the fire continues to rage through the New Year, the shelter continues to take in animals.

“If you live in the neighboring counties and are being evacuated or even just need a safe place to keep your animals during this difficult time our doors are open,” HSVC said.

Meet Casper and his goats. Casper is an Akbash, a rare breed of dog who specializes in livestock protection. Casper was brought to the shelter after his home had to be evacuated along with 5 other dogs, 3 cats, and 2 goats. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County
There was an outpouring of donated supplies delivered to the Humane Society of Ventura County during the Thomas fire. The organization is collaborating to provide overstock supplies to local farms and families in need. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County
A feed store owner from San Fernando also delivered a truckload of hay to feed the many farm animals taken into the shelter. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County
A thick layer of smoke fills the Ojai sky. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County
Humane Officer Tracy Vail and Humane Officer Kendra Winwood offered their assistance to Santa Barbara Animal Services to help transport 48 evacuee cats to the Santa Maria Animal Care Center. Due to the Thomas Fire the shelters in Santa Barbara were filling up quickly with animals being evacuated from the encroaching flames. The animals would need to remain within Santa Barbara County and so the transfer to Santa Maria was arranged. Photo Credit: Humane Society of Ventura County

The California Wildlife Center (CWC) in Malibu, California, has also played a role in treating wildlife affected by the fires, including a wild rabbit whose fate became a matter of public concern after she was rescued by a brave citizen in a viral video.

The rabbit saved from the Thomas fire in a viral video earlier this month. Photo Credit: California Wildlife Center

Although the move was super risky, the animal would not have survived if 21-year-old Caleb Wadman hadn’t intervened.

“This rabbit needed to get medical attention,” CWC’s Director of Animal Care Dr. Duane Tom said.

Currently being treated for burns to her ears and feet, the female cottontail is recovering well and could be released back into the wild soon.

“She is doing well,” CWCExecutive Director Jennifer Brent said, “We are waiting to see how the ears recover before any further steps are taken.”

Thanks to generous donations from compassionate readers like you, all of these life-saving efforts are possible.

As the Thomas fire continues to rage and is not expected to be fully contained until January 7, the Global Animal Foundation continues to collect donations to help rescue and care for animals affected by the devastating fire.

Please consider supporting the efforts to save animals in critical peril. Your compassion in action and support of Global Animal Foundation can help save the lives of animals in crisis.