Horse rescue efforts in California wildfires

October 24th, 2007

As wildfires continue to engulf Southern California, where more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed, the Humane Society of the United States, at the request of the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, is assisting in rescue efforts for thousands of animals in harm’s way. Despite wide-scale devastation, loss of life has been minimal, thus far.

“Many residents were able to take their animals with them as they evacuated,” said Melissa Rubin, vice president of field services for HSUS. “Unfortunately, it is much harder to evacuate horses and farm animals.”

Within 12 hours of receiving San Diego’s request for assistance, members of HSUS were on the ground assessing the situation and more than 20 HSUS disaster services staff from across the country were deployed to California to rescue horses, farm animals and pets.

San Diego’s historic Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack has made room for nearly 2,000 displaced horses and 1,000 more were given emergency shelter at nearby parks and polo grounds. Vessels Stallion Farm near Bonsall in San Diego County has taken in 300 horses and an evacuation plan is ready, if necessary, for their most famous resident, Quarter Horse racing’s leading sire First Down Dash.