County Animal Services Response to Lilac Fire

Video by Autumn Endara
At the request of County Animal Services, the Del Mar Fairgrounds opened up for large animals during the evacuation period for the Lilac Fire in December of 2017.

As the Lilac Fire burns out and recovery begins, County Animal Services is taking stock of its response to the incident. In addition to keeping its three shelters running, the department sent out teams of animal control officers and volunteers from the County Animal Response Team and Valley Center Disaster Animal Response Team.

horses_fairgrounds_sdsoThey responded to calls for help from firefighters and law enforcement on the scene, and through County Animal Services’ phone center and dispatch.

Shortly after the fire broke out, director Dan DeSousa asked the Del Mar Fairgrounds to open for evacuated horses and large livestock, and it immediately opened its stables. Animal Services sent a liaison to the fairgrounds to help owners reunite with their horses.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • 850 horses safely evacuated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds
    • Over 200 horses returned to owners by morning of Tuesday, Dec. 12
  • 170 requests for help since the start of the fire
  • 33 animals safely evacuated by County Animal Services and volunteers
    • including horses, dogs, cats, two pygmy goats, five adult rabbits, three baby rabbits, one chicken, a pig, and an Amazon parrot
  • 263 animals in the burn area given food and water when owners couldn’t get to them
  • 1 disaster supply trailer sent to Palomar College to provide crates for pets of evacuees
  • 1 box of kittens rescued by the Sheriff’s Department and given to Animal Services for care.
    • The kittens were transferred to the Humane Society and have been placed with a foster family.

Some animals have been reunited with their owners while others will remain in Animal Services’ care until their families can pick them up.

Kitten Surprise

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department finds a box of kittens Friday in the Bonsall fire area and hands them over to County Animal Services.

Animal Services gives the three-week-old kittens to the Humane Society who found a foster family for them. The little ones are doing well and have been named Lilac, Blaze and Sparky.



Joyous Reunion

A family evacuated from the Rancho Monserate Country Club is reunited with their dog, Pearl, Friday at the County’s animal shelter in Carlsbad.



Injured Horse

A horse escaped and suffered an eye injury when a Good Samaritan tried to evacuate the animal on Thursday. The owner couldn’t return to the property because of roadblocks and called Animal Services for help in saving Macki. An animal control officer rescued the 25-year-old horse and took it to the Carlsbad animal shelter where a veterinarian sutured the eye.


Svelte Swine

The owner of this pig asked for help during the evacuation Thursday because she had her hands full getting her two mini donkeys and four goats to safety. Apparently, some thought the pig looked bigger than he actually was. First guess was a 1,000 lbs. but 6-year-old Morgan is closer to 500 lbs.



Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact