Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue System (R.E.A.R.S.)
R.E.A.R.S. is a non-profit organization that relies primarily on donations and proceeds from fundraisers to purchase equipment to provide for the safety of our volunteers. Anyone interested in making a donation to R.E.A.R.S. is encouraged to contact Riverside County Department of Animal Services at the number or email listed below.
REARS is the system that has been developed to perform animal rescue, evacuation, sheltering, care and welfare of domestic and livestock animals within Riverside County during times of disaster or extraordinary emergencies.
REARS is comprised of a coordinating council consisting of the Riverside County Animal Services, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Fire Department – Office of Emergency Services and the California Highway Patrol. These are the primary agencies in supporting an evacuation.
The REARS backbone for carrying out the operational tasks of rescuing, evacuating, sheltering and caring for animals during emergencies is local government animal welfare staff and volunteers trained in animal rescue and emergency animal care. This cadre of trained individuals is supervised on incidents by Riverside County Animal Services management staff.
REARS can be deployed anywhere within the County of Riverside for emergency activities. Local government can also request REARS through the normal call out procedure. Through the Operational Area Coordinator, RivCo Fire Department – Office of Emergency Services, REARS may also be deployed out of County.
REARS is activated through a pager or a telephone call out procedure. (see activation procedures) RivCo Animal Services will always be the lead for REARS, though may be assisted on scene by another coordinating council agency such as RivCo Sheriff, RivCo Fire Department – OES or CHP.
RivCo Animal Services Supervision (Animal Rescue Coordinator) will be collocated at the Incident Command Post while another representative establishes an Animal Staging Area (Animal Staging Manager) nearby. This staging area will be in close proximity to the ICP, though not close enough to interfere with ICP or operational activities. The nature of the size and quantity of animal rescue equipment and vehicles necessitates an Animal Staging Area, separate from the Incident Staging Area. This will be the area that equipment is checked in, configured in teams and then deployed to perform animal rescue activities.
Rescued animals are brought to Animal Staging for inventory, tagging, and emergency first aid and then transported to board facilities by transport teams.
Riverside County Animal Services is the tasked agency within the County for the rescue, care and welfare of animals. During times of disasters, they have called upon the services of other local government animal services agencies to assist. It was quickly realized that extraordinary emergencies can overwhelm the available on duty animal rescue agencies and extended response times will affect the overall success of rescue operations. Additionally, there was often an overwhelming response of good intentioned local citizens desiring to assist. This has helped in the past, though often hindered emergency operations and needlessly placed citizen rescuers and first responders in harm’s way.
The Mountain Fire of October 2003 was the catalyst to developing a coordinated and collaborative effort for the emergency rescue, care and welfare of animals during times of emergencies and disasters.
During the summer of 2003 Southern California fell siege to wildland fires. The Mountain Fire in southwest Riverside County was the defining incident which brought to the forefront the need for a formal and organized animal rescue program in Riverside County. There were many lessons learned - it was realized that government agencies don't have enough staff to handle a massive animal evacuation; the services of many volunteers were not able to be utilized because they had no formal training and there was no organizational structure; and animal rescue groups must be part of the emergency plan so they don't impede fire engines and emergency vehicles in the course of their work.
Following the aftermath of the Mountain Fire, an ad-hoc committee was formed with representatives from Riverside Counties Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Department of Animal Services, Riverside County Fire Department (OES) and the California Highway Patrol.
The committee realized the need for an initial training program and continuing training in order to provide for the safety of the volunteers. Initially a basic class was developed consisting of an overview on the areas of Incident Command System, Law Enforcement Issues, Animal Evacuation Procedures, Fire Line Safety and Animal Handling. After completing the Basic Class, volunteers were issued an R.E.A.R.S. identification card. Later in the year continuing training included Flood Training, Trailer Inspection and Maneuvering. To date 279 volunteers have completed the Basic Class!
The original ad-hoc committee has evolved into the R.E.A.R.S. Council that oversees all aspects of the organization.
The R.E.A.R.S. Council oversees all aspects of the organization. The council includes a council chairman and council assistant. The group has been organized into (8) geographical areas identified as Hemet, Mountain, Desert, Banning, Southwest, Elsinore, Riverside and Out of County Areas. To assist the council with communication to the large group of trained volunteers, (23) Area Coordinators have been designated to disseminate information to smaller groups of volunteers.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
MEMBERSHIP & TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
To become a member of REARS, interested parties must first complete a Volunteer Services Application.
Mail application to:
Riverside County Department of Animal Services
Members will be notified if space is available for the upcoming New Member Academy.