Heroic Team Saves
Animals From CA Fire
by Sherry Morse and Patricia
Volunteers with horse trailers have been busy
helping evacuate horses from all over the fire ravaged Southern
In many cases, volunteers do not even know
the people they are helping. Trainer Randy Cano said of the
forty-five horses in his care, "We got them evacuated in about
an hour's time. It was absolutely amazing how much help we
Department of Animal Regulation for Ventura
County director Kathy Jenks and her staff, as well as hundreds
of volunteers, have been working to rescue animals of all
sizes since the fires broke out last week.
Jenks said so far, few injuries or deaths
to livestock have been reported in the county.
Deborah Kember and her husband, Kent Sullivan,
who own a local equine vet practice, have been treating six
horses for burns to their legs, hindquarters, faces and bellies
believed to be suffered from running through burning brush.
More than 2,000 horses in the county have
been evacuated, along with pigs, sheep, llamas, goats, cattle
and ostriches, as well as 410 dogs currently residing in Camarillo.
Between Saturday and Wednesday, Captain David
Havard of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Los Angeles and his unit of six vehicles and nine trained
officers rescued 250 horses and between fifty and a hundred
smaller animals, including dogs, cats and a potbellied pig
in the San Diego area.
The animals were taken to the Lakeside Rodeo
Grounds east of San Diego. Most of the animals at the Rodeo
grounds were burned or otherwise injured.
Many horses have been evacuated multiple times.
Some were sent to areas thought safe only to have to be evacuated
again when the fire advanced.
In some cases, the horses were sent to areas
that had already burned, then had to be moved when fires swept
through the same area again.
At the Poway Valley Riders Association (PVRA),
over 1,000 horses were brought in to escape the fires only
to be re-evacuated when the PVRA was in danger of being burned.
The last load of horses left the grounds with
the fire burning just across the street.
At the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Del Mar Horsepark,
nearly all of the 1,100 horses cared for in the first few
days of the fires were picked up by their owners by Tuesday
But with new fires in the Palomar Mountain
and Julian areas, officials said they expect more horses from
North and East County to be brought into the shelters.
The fairground has many veterinarians on call
if the animals need care. San Diego Animal Control and Mary's
Tack and Feed are providing food and supplies for the animals,
but owners who could were asked to bring feed for their animals
to help supplies last longer.
The Miramar Marine Corps Air Station also
announced it would open its stables to house up to seventy-five
The Alta Loma Riding Club's Large Animal Emergency
Response team has been working day and night to save horses
from the Grand Prix and Old fires in conjunction with the
Rancho Cucamonga Fire Dept.
Currently, 200-250 horses being kept at Ingall's
Park in Norco owe their lives to the quick work of the Team.
The Emergency Response Team has spent every
last penny they have on this rescue effort and are relying
heavily on donations and volunteer efforts to enable them
to keep up the same level of response while the fires continue
One of the fatalities in the San Diego fires
was an Arabian breeder and trainer named Nancy Morphew in
Valley Center. She was trying to save her horses when her
truck got stuck in a ravine.
Neighbors and other family members saved all
her horses, but didn't realize she was missing until her body
Melissa Paul, Curator of the W. K. Kellogg
Arabian Horse Library in Pomona, had to leave her horses behind
as she escaped from the fire.
She said, "I thought I was going to die. Trailers
were on the way when I had to leave because a wall of flame
was on my east exit and another on my west. It was more horrible
than I can describe. But the firestorm burned everything around
the pipe horse corrals, total devastation. But it didn't get
One volunteer working at the Rodeo ground
said, "There is almost nothing safe that hasn't burned already.
The Polo Grounds are full. All the horses that were at the
ranch, about 100 in total, got out safely.
"However, I was assisting in a evac
in Crest a bit earlier, and I will never forget seeing my
trainer and another friend running down the street with horses
in hand, flames about 50 feet behind. We had to leave several
horses behind. I'm assisting as best I can the vets and rescuers.
We've had a couple euthanasias, and a lot of badly burned
horses," he said.
Norco is the command center now for the evacuated
horses and other animals rescued from all the fires. There
are corrals, feed, water and even fly masks for the horses
at Ingall's Park and Norco's Equestrian Center.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.