Rescuing animals during disasters - United StatesIn a disaster, animals can’t ask for help
Updated: 25 September 2020
During an animal search and rescue assignment at a vacant property, a young puppy with burns on his face was found hiding underneath a car. Against all odds, he miraculously survived the wildfires by either seeking shelter under the car or in a nearby creek. His rescuers rushed him to a local veterinary clinic that specializes in animal burns and nicknamed him “Trooper” in honor of his perseverance. Having lost their home, his owners decided to surrender him, as they can no longer support him. The good news – the woman who rescued Trooper will foster him and has plans to potentially train him in search and rescue to help other animals in future disasters!
Because of safety concerns brought on by the wildfire, the owners of a horse named Star were unable to access their property. They had arranged for their neighbors to care for Star until she could be evacuated. We had the perfect person for the job: IFAW responder Mark Vogel. Thanks to decades of experience working with horses during fire evacuations, Mark was able to calm Star and safely load her into the trailer for transportation. She is currently at a temporary emergency shelter waiting to be safely reunited with her owners.
16 September 2020
While searching a neighborhood destroyed by fire, our Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response, Jen Gardner, found an older female dog in need of rescue. Injured and traumatized by the disaster that left her all alone, the dog was initially very afraid. Jen quickly gained her trust and carried her to our rescue vehicle. The team brought her to the IFAW-managed NVADG shelter, where she is receiving care, treatment for her skin irritation, and much affection from the team.
During the search and rescue efforts, our team also rescued a trio of goats who were trapped inside a gate. Escaping with singed fur and smoke inhalation, it’s incredible that these animals survived the intensity of the fire, which had completely melted several cars on the property. We brought the goats to a larger animal shelter, where the animals will be provided with care until they are reunited with their family.
14 September 2020
Our team arrived in Butte County, California and immediately set up a second temporary animal shelter (named Cal Oak) for evacuated and rescued animals. The shelter currently has capacity to house 100 dogs and 100 cats. Shannon Walajtys, Program Director of IFAW’s disaster response team, is supporting critical logistics, planning, and resource management at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) alongside our partner, the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. Four IFAW responders deployed to animal search and rescue teams behind the fire lines, while the remaining responders managed the shelter and began working on plans to reunite rescued pets with their families.
During Saturday’s search and rescue mission, we received a call from a concerned owner who became separated from her dog, Pippa, during the fire. Once it was deemed safe to enter the fire zone, our team searched through the rubble and located Pippa and another missing dog. We brought them to a temporary emergency shelter where they will soon be reunited with their family.
As the team was leaving the fire grounds on Saturday, two firefighters waved our vehicle to stop. The firefighters had rescued four small kittens in need of emergency veterinary care. Our team thanked them and took the kittens straight away to a local vet for assessment and treatment.
Stay tuned for more rescue stories from the field
11 September 2020
IFAW’s Disaster Response & Risk Reduction team has deployed to northern California to help rescue animals impacted by the North Complex Fire. At the request of North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG), our team will be supporting with animal search and rescue efforts, emergency sheltering, and Emergency Operations Center Planning and Logistics.
The North Complex Fire has already burned 250,00 acres since igniting in August and continues to burn 1,000 acres every 30 minutes. Less than two years ago, IFAW deployed to this same area to rescue animals and support communities impacted by the Camp Fire. Our team is already seeing friends and colleagues suffering again with little time to recover since the last disaster. We’re prepared to help in any way we can to rescue animals and support communities who have lost everything.
Stay tuned for more updates from the field as our deployment continues.
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