Wildfires leave horses, owners displaced
San Diego - 10/25/07 - Wind-whipped wildfires have swallowed Southern California, leaving roughly half a million acres blackened, almost 1,600 homes destroyed, more than 500,000 residents evacuated and thousands of animals abandoned .
As the blazes continue burning into their fifth day, dozens of veterinarians have been forced from their practices, with at least two practitioners among those whose homes have burned up, says Pauline White, San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association .
Evacuated horse owners in the proclaimed "horse-loving" county have turned to volunteers to care for the thousands of animals they were forced to abandon. Multiple facilities across the state - Del Mar Race Track, Oaks Blenheim/Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, Orange County Fairgrounds, Los Alamitos and Industry Hills Equestrian Center, among others, including private homeowners - have opened their doors to offer shelter to the displaced horses, says Julie Ryan Johnson, DVM, rescue volunteer and practice owner in Dana Point.
Others are working to collect supplies to help the volunteers properly care for and feed the animals. "We need to make sure we coordinate efforts and ensure as the smoke clears, we have all resources for these horses, because their owners are displaced," says Robert Harman, DVM, leading the supply-gathering effort.
For more on the wildfires, efforts to care for impacted horses and the story of Harman's Ramona-based ranch, home to 14 horses, going up in flames, see DVM Newsmagazine's November issue.