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No Harm to Pets; Some Limitations to Services on Tuesday

Animal Services staffers jumped into action as a river-bottom fire raced in the direction of the county’s shelter in Jurupa Valley Monday afternoon.

The Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter is next to the Santa Ana River and river-bottom blazes happen, usually caused from those living in makeshift camps. The fires have come close – but never this close.

Shrubs caught fire within the property line and animal care and veterinary technicians shuffled fast to move pets from the treatment/receiving area – a building that is on the Santa Ana River side of the 12-acre campus. All the animals are safe and none were evacuated. The Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center in Riverside did assist with taking on a handful of the medical-needs animals.

The shelter will only assist with emergency requests on Tuesday (May 25) to allow for the shelter staff to examine all the pets and regroup. Those with spay and neuter appointments and those needing euthanasia will be assisted. The area remains very smoky so adoptions will not be conducted, nor those seeking licensing assistance.

The fire started shortly after 11 a.m., but it was a late afternoon flare up that changed the fire’s direction and pushed staffers into action. Employees hustled to shut the guillotine-styled doors to prevent smoke from entering the interiors of the dog kennels. They quickly relocated county and personal vehicles that started taking on sparks.

Law enforcement informed staffers an evacuation order was issued, and Animal Services Director Julie Bank sent almost everyone home. Animal control officers, and some animal care and veterinary technicians stayed put, sheltering in place, just in case the approximately 500 shelter animals would have to be immediately evacuated.

“The team responded like they always do – with skill and professionalism,” Bank said. “They showcased their ability to stay calm and collected and ensured the safety of all our pets.”

A dozen members of REARS (Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue System), a volunteer-based unit formed by Riverside County Animal Services, staged at a nearby park to assist any property owners in the evacuation zone. REARS volunteers are trained and certified by Animal Services officers primarily for large-animal rescues.

Late into Monday, firefighting helicopters and planes continued the thunderous circles above the shelter and surrounding area and dropped water and retardant to assist the more than 200 firefighters down below.

(Please visit CAL Fire/Riverside County Fire Department’s incident link for specifics on the fire:

Contact a Shelter

Western Riverside: (951) 358-7387 (PETS)
San Jacinto: (951) 358-7387
Coachella Valley: (760) 343-3644
Blythe: (760) 921-7857
Toll Free: 1-888-636-7387 (PETS)

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