The Woolsey Fire that has burned 70,000 acres, destroyed at least 150 homes and forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties was also mobilizing the local animal rescue community, as volunteers scrambled to find shelter for thousands of small pets and large animals alike.
Evacuation centers for animals were opened Friday morning at Hansen Dam, 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace, after the evacuation center at Pierce College in Woodland Hills reached capacity. Hansen Dam too eventually reached capacity, and the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Services was assisting pet owners at its shelter locations.
“Community! Let’s rally together to help the displaced animals and their human companions in this urgent situation,” the department tweeted Saturday. “Kennels/crates are needed at sheltering sites – please take them to the office of Council Member Bob Blumenfield at 19040 Vanowen St. Reseda, CA 91335 Thank you all!”
The department also encouraged people to go to their closest animal care center and adopt animals to clear space for those displaced by the fire.
A large animal evacuation center was established at the Zuma Beach parking lot in Malibu. Industry Hills Expo Center in the San Gabriel Valley was also offering shelter for horses from fire-affected areas.
In Ventura County, Borchard Community Center at 190 Reino Rd. in Newbury Park was accepting dogs and cats, while the Camarillo Community Center at 1605 E. Burnley St. was accepting small animals. Those who need large animal assistance were advised to call (805) 388-4258.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Los Angeles chapter said Saturday that they would deploy a disaster response team to the Woolsey Fire after answering the call for mutual aid from the Los Angeles County Department of Care and Control.
“SpcaLA is headed to a staging area in Thousand Oaks, where DART members will report to Los Angeles County Incident Command. DART consists of humane officers, veterinary staff, animal care givers, and other professionals,” spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein said.
She also urged people who want to support spcaLA’s disaster relief efforts to donate at spcaLA.com. Additionally, donations of unopened pet food and wire crates to supplement what spcaLA is bringing to the Woolsey Fire can be dropped off at any spcaLA location during operating hours, or purchased on spcaLA’s Amazon Wish List.
Bunny World Foundation founder Lejla Hadzimuratovic said the phone at her Los Angeles-based rabbit rescue group was ringing nonstop Saturday with calls about domestic rabbits being dumped by residents fleeing their homes. She was taking requests from people who need help — and those who want to help — via email at email@example.com.
The fire, which erupted Thursday, has forced a citywide evacuation in Malibu and parts of four other Los Angeles County areas — Westlake Village, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills and Calabasas. It was zero percent contained Saturday afternoon.
Cal Fire officials said the cause was under investigation.
Winds died down Saturday, but were expected to pick up again later Saturday and Sunday afternoon, as the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for gusty winds and low humidity in effect through Tuesday afternoon.