Animal Services Helps Pets, Livestock Displaced in West Fire

The County Department of Animal Services rescued or sheltered approximately 30 animals from the West Fire, and after reuniting all but four, staff members are helping people impacted by the fire with pet food and resources if needed at the Alpine Local Assistance Center.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience with this, so we can jump into action, and all went smoothly,” said Dan DeSousa, director for the County Department of Animal Services Department.

When a fire breaks out in a community and Animal Services is activated, they start gathering trucks and trailers for livestock. As calls for assistance come in through their emergency dispatch line, they send one uniformed officer out with one or more volunteers, which helps officers get more done and increases safety. Additionally, an officer is assigned to a command post to help transmit information between officers in the field and the incident commander.

Among the newest of the animals in need was a days old calf that was discovered alone sitting under a CAL FIRE trailer in a staging area. DeSousa said it turned out the calf’s herd normally was in the field where CAL FIRE set up, and due to all the people, the herd went to another pasture but left the calf behind. They reunited the calf with the herd.

Among the animals were 12 horses, two miniature horses, three goats and three alpacas that needed rescuing and shelter at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds. An additional four dogs, two goats and one cat sheltered at Animal Services’ Bonita facility.

As of Monday, all animals were reunited with their owners except for the cat and three dogs and it is likely they will soon be reunited as well. DeSousa said two of the dogs were brought to the shelter by the owner saying they had to evacuate and could not take the dogs with them. The third dog is microchipped and the department has the address of the home where the cat was rescued.

DeSousa said no one as yet has reached out about any missing pets or livestock.

“We want to express our most sincere gratitude to our animal control officers, animal care attendants, volunteers and staff that assisted the community in their time of need,” DeSousa said. “We also want to thank the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds for making their property available to us for sheltering of livestock.”

For Animal Services assistance, an officer is at the Alpine Local Assistance Center, 1752 Alpine Blvd. from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. until further notice. For animal assistance related to the West Fire, you may also call (619) 767-2675 or for non emergency information Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For emergency dispatch, call (619) 236-2341.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact