Missing Pets: How to Find Animals Lost During California Wildfires

pets wildfires

Getty/North Valley Animal Disaster Group

Three major wildfires are burning across California, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. At least 79 people have been killed. Thousands of buildings have been either damaged or destroyed as firefighters struggle to contain the flames.

Some families are unfortunately separated from their pets during the rush to evacuate. For those living in Butte County, one organization to check with is the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. They specialize in evacuating and caring for animals during disasters. According to their website, the group is operating three shelters.

• Small Animal Shelter: 2279 Del Oro Avenue in Oroville. It is located off Nelson near the County Shelter & Highway 70

• Small Animal Shelter: 150 Airpark Drive in Chico, at the Chico Airport

• For Large Animals: Rolling Hills Casino Equestrian Center located at 2655 Everett Freeman Way in Corning

• For Large Animals: Butte County Fairgrounds at 199 E. Hazel Street in Gridley

The North Valley Animal Disaster Group urges people who need help evacuating to call rather than send a message online. The number is 530-895-0000.

The Animal Disaster Group has also identified more than two dozen hotels in the Butte County area that allow pets, you can see that list embedded below or by clicking here.

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A Facebook group has been set up to help pet owners spread the word about animals that went missing in the Camp Fire. It’s called Camp Fire Pet Rescue and Reunification and it was launched in affiliation with Paws-1-1. Some of the people posting pictures and requests for help include those who were at work when the evacuation orders went out, and were not allowed to return to their homes.

In Ventura County, several shelters allow families to bring their animals with them. According to the VC Star, those that will accept small pets include:

• Borchard Community Center at 190 Reino Road in Newbury Park
• Camarillo Community Center at 1605 E. Burnley St. in Camarillo
• Ventura County animal shelter at 600 Aviation Drive in Camarillo

Shelters and organizations that also accept larger animals in Ventura County include:

• Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura
• Pierce College at 7100 El Rancho Drive in Woodland Hills
• Los Angeles County Animal Services
• Humane Society of Ventura County at 402 Bryant St. in Ojai (accepting horses and other domesticated animals)

The Simi Valley Missing Pets Facebook group is another option for spreading the word about a missing pet. The page has more than 44,000 followers.

A representative from the Humane Society reached out to Heavy and shared that the organization has offered to help relocate animals from shelters that had to be evacuated. They also shared tips for what to do with small and large animals when evacuating.

For horses and other large animals, the Society recommends:
• In extreme danger with limited time, let your horse or large animal into a larger enclosed area that has been tamped down and is out of the line of fire. Ensure the safety of first response personnel by not allowing the horses to run free.

• If you are evacuating, let your large animals out into a paddock or corral, cut off their access to return to a barn or stall (as they will naturally retreat back to where they are fed or cared for, even if the structure is on fire).

• Make sure the animal is easily identifiable; consider using non-toxic spray paint to spray paint your phone number on their body for easy reunification purposes.

If you encounter small, wild animals running away from wildfire, the Society says you should:

• Do everything you can to allow fleeing animals to pass through and IF you are not in a line of fire, provide access to fresh water.

• The assistance/guidance of a professional wildlife rehabilitator is likely required if the animal requires assistance or intervention

You can read more details about the fire and evacuations in Ventura County and Los Angeles areas, including Malibu and the Pacific Palisades here.

For interactive maps, evacuation zones and and the latest details on the Camp Fire in Butte County, click here.