California Wildfire Relief: Helping Survivors Make A Comeback

VCAS personnel attempting to calm a woolsey fire evacuated horse as he enters a trailer. Photo Credit: VC Animal Services

(HELP ANIMALS/ANIMAL RESCUE) Last month’s massive wildfires are now fully contained, but survivors throughout Northern and Southern California continue to pick up the pieces.

With more than 11,700 homes lost in the Camp Fire, and at least 177 homes destroyed by the Woolsey Fire, several animals were lost, displaced, or injured amid the chaos.

Thanks to the compassion of generous donors like you, Global Animal Foundation raised an initial $2,500 to help the countless pets, horses, and wildlife affected by the fires.

We are thrilled to share that we’ve since collected another $4,000 to disperse among vetted animal rescue organizations working to keep animals safe and healthy, and reunite evacuated, rescued, and displaced animals with their families.

Donations are being distributed among four key animal rights organizations working to help animals affected by the Camp Fire in Butte County and the Woosley and Hill fires throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County.

IFAW disaster response team volunteer Louis Lombas provides Camp Fire relief to displaced animals. Photo Credit: IFAW

North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG) and International Fund For Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) have made great strides caring for the thousands of animals in the Camp Fire evacuation zone and in emergency shelters.

IFAW’s support has been critical for animal search and rescue teams. Their disaster response team has helped care for injured animals, offered guidance on improving efficiency and organization in temporary shelters, and even created a database of lost animals ( to increase the number of pet and family reunions.

Emergency animal rescue efforts in Paradise, California, have posed unique challenges as rescuers have been asked to break windows, kick in doors, and take whatever action necessary to search for lost pets, which were separated from residents in the rush to evacuate with only seconds to spare. Many other people were already at work with no way to return home as the fire raced across land at record speed and temperature.

Volunteer Rick Anderson assists two horses in Paradise. These horses were later transported to the large animal shelter. Photo Credit: NVADG

Teams have navigated perilous fire zones and searched through a maze of burned structures to check on pets and livestock, periodically tapping on walls to encourage animals–mostly frightened cats–out of hiding and scanning the rubble for any sign of movement. Along the way, they would leave behind bowls of water and food in places where animals may gather and for other animals safely “sheltering in place,” like goats and chickens.

With thousands of animals still in temporary shelters and many left in need of rescue, these organizations intend to get every pet back to their families as quickly as possible. For a community that lost everything without warning, their pets are often the one piece of hope they can cling onto. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to bring these family members home safe.

These three goats were brought to the HSVC shelter after being rescued from a burnt down property in Malibu by HSVC’s Emergency Animal Rescue Team. Photo Credit: HSVC

In Southern California, Humane Society of Ventura County (HSVC), along with the help of Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (LACDACC), have faced similar challenges, rescuing more than 1,000 animals displaced by local Woolsey and Hill fires.

Though Malibu is technically in Los Angeles County, HSVC is helping all the animals that it has the capacity for. At the peak of the fires, the Ojai facility took in 269 displaced animals–including dogs, cats, birds, horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens, and even a tortoise. Beyond providing shelter, the organization is also providing veterinary care to animals, as needed.

Donations to HSVC contribute to both short-term and long-term care of the animals it takes in.

“Our pledge is we will keep them on our property until the owners are ready to collect them,” Greg Cooper, director of community outreach, explained.

HSVC sends a huge ‘thank you’ to all of its volunteers and donors, and is happy to report that all the animals in their care are all doing well.

VCAS personnel attempting to calm a Woolsey Fire evacuated horse as he enters a trailer. Photo Credit: VCAS

Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) also made a significant impact in Southern California, caring for over 300 evacuated animals–from cats and dogs to livestock animals and small wildlife–since the start of the fires.

The organization remarkably rescued a rabbit with severe burns and has been documenting his long path to recovery on Twitter. As you can see below, “Cinder” is still receiving around-the-clock medical care with a VCAS Bunny Brigade foster family, but he is improving with each passing day.

Donations distributed to VCAS make life-saving efforts like these possible.

California Wildlife Center (CWC)–which protects California-native wildlife through rehabilitation, education, and conservation–is located in an area heavily hit by the Woolsey Fire. Luckily their Malibu facility was spared, but the center was forced to evacuate all of their wild animal patients.

California Wildlife Center volunteers safely evacuated all of their animal patients during the Woolsey Fire. Photo Credit: CWC

Donations distributed to CWC have made their massive clean-up efforts possible as they recovered from the smoke and ash damage to ensure safe and healthy conditions for their animal patients.

CWC is now back up and running and accepting animal patients once again.

“CWC staff is grateful for the members of the public who supported us when we had to evacuate due to the Woolsey fire and didn’t know if we would have a facility to return to. We are thankful for our volunteers who, along with donating thousands of hours of their time to help us care for wildlife during the year, came out in force to assist with the clean-up efforts,” CWC said in a statement.

“We are indebted to our wildlife care partners who took in patients while we were evacuated. Lastly but certainly not least, we appreciate the fire crews and first responders who put their lives on the line to battle the blaze.” 

These animals need our help now more than ever, and these rescue organizations cannot make a difference without the generosity and compassion of readers like you.

All proceeds will be dispersed between 1) North Valley Animal Disaster Group, 2) International Fund for Animal Welfare, 3) Humane Society of Ventura County, 4) Ventura County Animal Services, and 5) California Wildlife Center to help rescue and care for lost or injured animals.

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.