The Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar is preparing for the return of its wildlife Wednesday, as hundreds of animals displaced by the raging Sand Fire continue to be housed at various county shelters.
According to the county Department of Animal Care and Control, there were 837 evacuated animals in area shelters as of Tuesday, up by about 70 from the previous day.
The displaced animals included 377 horses, 157 goats, 117 chickens and 34 pigs. Llama, mules, sheep, rabbits, turkeys and donkeys were also among the critters being overseen at shelters including the Antelope Valley Fair Grounds, Hansen Dam and Pierce College. Smaller animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs were being cared for at county animal shelters in Lancaster, Agoura, Castaic and Palmdale. Temporary shelter facilities have also been established at evacuation centers.
DACC Deputy Director Aaron Reyes said staffers were dealing with the “largest emergency situation involving the most animals” in recent memory.
Reyes said animals were “slowly but surely” making their way back to their owners. Among them was a 75-pound tortoise named Pebbles that was left behind because the owner couldn’t hoist the animal into the family car when evacuating, ABC7 reported.
Deputies were able to rescue Pebbles and bring him to the Castaic Animal Care Center. He has since been reunited with his family, but Reyes said three other tortoises remain at area shelters.
Officials at the Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar said the facility will be reopened Wednesday afternoon, and its stock of lions, tigers, bears, hyenas, cougars and other animals will be returned to the sanctuary. Community members showed up Saturday to help move animals from the 160-acre sanctuary at 14831 Little Tujunga Canyon Road.
Spokesman Jerry Brown said all the animals still at the facility and those taken to warehouses to wait out the fire were safe and well cared-for. Workers at the Waystation appear to have all the necessary transport vehicles, and say no additional volunteers or vehicles are needed.
Another famed wildlife sanctuary in the area, the Shambala Preserve run by actress Tippi Hedren, was not evacuated, although Hedren called the fire “demonic.”
“May we never have to witness this display of horror ever again,” according to Hedren, who said stayed at the preserve despite requests by her staff to evacuate.
“Thank you to all of you who have been standing by us and trying to reach out to us to no avail,” she said. “All of our power and communication with the outside world has been out since the fire peaked.”
VCA Animal Hospitals was offering free boarding for small pets at some of its area hospitals. The animals must be vaccinated, but if they aren’t, the hospital will offer free vaccinations, along with health screenings. Residents were urged to contact the hospitals in advance to ensure space is available. The hospitals are:
— VCA Adler Animal Hospital and Pet Resort, 16911 Roscoe Blvd. North Hills, (818) 893-6366;
— VCA McClave Animal Hospital, 6950 Reseda Blvd., Reseda, (818) 881-5102;
— VCA Parkwood Animal Hospital, 6330 Fallbrook Ave., Woodland Hills, (818) 884-5506;
— VCA Animal Hospital (Burbank), 2723 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, (818) 845- 7246;
— VCA Westlake Village Animal Hospital, 31166 Via Colinas, (805) 497-4900;
— VCA Arden Animal Hospital, 407 Arden Ave., Glendale, (818) 246-2478; and
— VCA A Breed Apart Animal Hospital, 777 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, (626) 795-4444.
A county spokeswoman said residents looking for ways to help displaced animals can donate to Noah’s Legacy.
“We have received many generous donations of feed and supplies for our pets. Many people have asked what more they can do to help,” DACC Director Marcia Mayeda said. “We are fortunate to have a foundation that has established a fund called Noah’s Legacy for emergency response.”
Money from that fund has been used to buy “Ani-safe” trailers, one of which is being used on the campus of Hart High School to house animals rescued from the fire. Donations may be made at www.lacountyanimals.org.
—City News Service
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