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Friday, 10 August 2018 15:32

Riverside County animal agencies caring for Holy Fire evacuees’ animals

RIVERSIDE -- More than 200 pets from families living in the Holy Fire evacuation areas are currently being cared for by both Riverside County Animal Services and Animal Friends of the Valleys.

Riverside County Animal Services impounded a total of 94 animals (66 dogs and 27 cats) at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus in San Jacinto. Assistance started on Wednesday and continued today.

The Southwest Communities Shelter in Wildomar, operated by Animal Friends of the Valleys, assisted pet owners early and late Wednesday by taking in 148 pets (89 dogs, 46 cats and 13 others).

Animal Friends of the Valleys is at capacity and Riverside County Animal Services’ employees are still accepting animals at Temescal Canyon High and directly at the San Jacinto shelter (581 S. Grand Ave.). This shelter cared for more than 160 animals that were owned by evacuees during the recent Cranston Fire. Most of those pets are now reunited with their owners, so the shelter has plenty of room for Holy Fire evacuees’ pets.

Neither organization is charging board and care fees for the evacuated families.

Although evacuation orders remain for some pockets in the Holy Fire zone, Riverside County Animal Services’ officials are already working on a plan that will make matters easier for pet owners once they’re allowed back in their homes.

The plan includes transporting the evacuees’ pets directly back to them at the drop-off location at Temescal Canyon High, Animal Services Director Robert Miller said.

“We’re planning to use our animal control trucks as a Lyft or Uber service for people’s pets,” Miller said. “These residents have been through a lot. And we don’t think forcing them to drive a two-hour, round-trip journey to reunite with their pets is something that we’re comfortable with. Bringing the pets back to them seems to be a much better solution to better assist pet owners getting back to some state of normalcy.”

More information about this plan will be posted on Animal Services’ web site and social media platforms, Miller said.

“We also think it will alleviate any confusion, too,” Miller said. “We know some pet owners took their animals to the shelter in Wildomar. So we want to jump on it right away, call the owners, and let them know we’re coming with your four-legged family members. It’s the least we can do in a time of crisis.”

Riverside County Animal Services' number is 951-358-7387. Pet owners should know that this number kicks into an after-hours, emergency service after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during most weekend hours.

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