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SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – New footage released by In Defense of Animals reveals horses, sheep, and wild turkeys who fled the California wildfires. In Defense of Animals has banded together with six other North Bay animal organizations to rescue and care for fire victims. The disaster continues to cause vast amounts of damage and massive loss of human and animal life.
Terrifying video footage shows In Defense of Animals’ Nicole Otoupalik leading a horse to safety in Orange County while huge, angry smoke plumes approach. Otoupalik was caught in the Irvine Park blaze and got straight to work evacuating horses.
“It was pretty scary, as the fires were right there, and they were moving fast,” reports Otoupalik. “The poor horses were scared, too. It was amazing to see people just running to help the horses at Irvine Park. They didn’t have enough staff to evacuate the horses, and so members of the public who had come to get a look at the fire just started running back into the park to help lead the horses out. Strangers were just offering their time, trailers, and trucks to help get the animals out of there. Others in cars stopped to offer rides to help everyone get there more quickly.”
The horses were evacuated safely from Irvine Park to a grocery store parking lot, and from there to an evacuation camp at the Orange County Fairground.
“Although the danger is over in Orange County, so many animals were injured and killed. Now, their homes are destroyed. It’s so sad, and northern California is even worse with many animals still at great risk. It is just a tragedy and so sad for so many people and animals. Please give what you can now to ensure the animals get the help they need.”
In Defense of Animals based in San Rafael, Marin County, has been coordinating aid to animal victims of the wildfires in concert with local organizations. Emergency relief from In Defense of Animals’ disaster fund has benefited Sonoma Humane Society, Lost Hearts & Souls Horse Rescue, and Forget Me Not Farm in Santa Rosa; Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma; Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch in Napa; House Rabbit Society in Richmond; and Otra Mas horse rescue in San Juan.
5,700 homes and businesses are reported destroyed, with at least 41 confirmed human deaths and untold animal casualties. 217,000 acres have been consumed by the flames and wild animals have no choice but to simply run as fast as they can from the terrifying blazes consuming their homes. Tens of thousands have perished, and many more are injured and need help.
Many families forced to flee the burning onslaught had very little preparation or warning. Some barely made it out alive as they dashed to find and secure their animals. Now these family members – four-legged, winged or hoofed – must find shelter and hope for the best as 11,000 firefighters battle the blaze. For the Silo, Fleur Dawes.
Donations made to In Defense of Animals’ Disaster Relief Fund help provide emergency supplies and resources to thousands of displaced victims of this sudden unexpected crisis. Support California’s wildfire victims here: www.idausa.org/californiawildfires
photos courtesy of F. Dawes/IDA.