Devastating fires are raging across California, in a terrible scene that has gripped the attention of the entire nation. There are more than 80 people confirmed dead, and countless more missing and displaced from their homes.

As we’ve seen in many prior disaster scenarios, thousands of animals, lost or separated from their families, are in need too. The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team is on the ground in Butte County -- where the deadliest and most destructive of the fires originated -- at the request of Butte County Animal Control.

We are one of many organizations that are assisting, and we are doing our part to relieve the suffering of animals, and to provide necessary short-term care and support to ensure their well-being. We are moving animals out of shelters affected by the fires and we are helping establish temporary shelters to provide interim care.

Our strategy, as always, is to make sure the animals rescued are either reunited with their owners or, if they do not already have a home, are placed in shelters where they can find one. We have provided grants to several organizations and shelters in the area, including Ventura County Animal Services, Ruff Valley Animal Refuge and the Red Cross for supplies for evacuees’ pets and pets found without their owners. We have provided funds to feed horses evacuated from areas affected by the fires.

The wildfires have come on the heels of two monster storms that hit the United States this Fall, in which our Animal Rescue Team also provided crucial rescue and care services. We respond to disasters caused entirely by human indifference and cruelty, too. Last Thursday, our Animal Rescue Team assisted with a seizure involving 125 farm animals in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in suburban Washington, D.C. I can share some good news on that score.

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[media-credit name="Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS" align="aligncenter" width="620"]

Many of the animals rescued from the Prince George's County property -- including geese, chickens, pigs, peafowl, cattle, goats and rabbits – appeared to be neglected.
Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

[/media-credit] Many of the animals rescued from the Prince George's County property -- including geese, chickens, pigs, peafowl, cattle, goats and rabbits – appeared to be neglected.[/caption]

The animals were living in filthy conditions, and their pastures were an absolute mess. When our rescuers found them, some of the animals were standing in inches of muck. Many of the animals -- including geese, chickens, pigs, peafowl, cattle, goats and rabbits – were very thin and appeared to be neglected. Sadly, we found several dead animals on the property. Two veterinarians worked alongside our team through the day, examining the animals, working to identify any in need of immediate medical treatment, and ensuring they received it. There were four pigs being housed in an old, dark horse trailer, slipping on their own feces and urine, just lying in their own waste.

Our staff worked through sleet and rain and heavy winds to help the animals. The Prince George’s County Animal Services Division, which requested our assistance, seized the animals in place, meaning they will remain on the site until a determination on their legal status is made. HSUS team members took steps to ensure the animals will be properly cared for in the interim, providing them with comfortable bedding and housing and making sure they have enough feed.

The animals in Prince George’s County are getting our support. Our Animal Response team has turned its full attention to California where the emergency, with its likely impact on hundreds of thousands of animals and the people who love and care for them, is just beginning. We expect that our help will be needed for weeks to come, and we’re ready, not least because our supporters know the value of giving in times of disaster. Where animals are in crisis, we plan to be there, and you make that possible.

Please consider making a gift to our Emergency Animal Rescue Fund today. Your gift supports all of our preparedness, rescue, care, and relief efforts and ensures that we are able to answer the call whenever animals are in urgent need of assistance.