PETALUMA, Calif. (KTVU) - Re-populating fire evacuation areas also includes a huge number of animals from individual pets to entire herds to exotic animals. With city and county Animal Control agencies overwhelmed during the fires, volunteers help save many hundreds of animals
This afternoon, at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, which has been welcoming rescued animals, volunteers from NorCal Livestock Evac prepared to truck domesticated Himalayan Yaks as well as long horned highland cattle, back to Sonoma Mountain.
"We banded together and we've pulled hundreds and hundreds of animals out I mean we pulled a hundred cows out in one day, 50 goats out in another day and llamas and sheep and pigs and rabbits and horses and everything. We've gotten so many animals out.," said Shelina Moreda, founder of Norcal Livestoock Evac.
Moreda beams with pride at the group's accomplishments, "I've nicknamed them "Team Bad Ass" because they were the ones going literally into the fires. We had people pulling horses out of fields that were already in flames."
In wildfires, it's critical for rescuers to get in as soon as possible to get the animals and the rescuers out safely.
"The rate at which the fire, you know, advanced towards us was just pretty surprising and it covered a couple of miles in about probably an hour and a half. So, there were areas where is was definitely, definitely a risky proposition to get in and get out," said Sean Stockton of Norcal Livestock Evac.
One of the lessons from all of this is that there need to be people who are willing to rescue animals to be properly certified so they can easily get through police lines and other blockades to actually do the rescues. And, the places that take these animals also need to be certified to make sure that the animals are well cared for.
"A lot of these animals were penned up. Some of the owners did open gates and turn them loose as sort of a last-ditch effort when you don't have time to evacuate," said Mr. Stockton.
Other volunteer groups, working in other areas also saved animals underscoring the reason to seriously consider allowing animal rescuers also to be first responders