Santa Clarita Valley residents of all kinds were affected by the devastating Tick Fire, including many animals.
As Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies were working to help firefighters with evacuations and road closures, they were also rescuing animals from the fires, including a pair of pups off The Old Road in Castaic and another on Husk Avenue in Canyon Country.
The dogs are all safe and as of Friday were in the care of Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, according to Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
“Any dogs that deputies were unable to locate their owners were transported to the Castaic Animal Shelter, so if anyone is missing their pets, that would be the first place to check,” Miller said.
Miller also suggests those who are missing their pets to post pictures on one of the Facebook community groups dedicated to pets, such as “Lost & Found Pets of SCV.”
A moderator on this group and admin on “Everything Pets SCV,” Jordan Roberts-Diem, said she and her husband didn’t get any sleep Thursday night as they worked to coordinate who could help each of the stranded or lost animals and their families.
“We’ve had a lot of people that we’ve been trying to help get animals out, but once everything shuts down it becomes really impossible,” she said.
Though able to assist in finding or rescuing many, that was not always possible. One particularly upsetting case was the loss of approximately 18 animals, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs and reptiles, at a ranch near Sand Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, which the fire quickly overtook, leaving residents almost no time to evacuate.
“They left for work and came home, but by that time it was far too late,” she said, adding that the animals were trapped in their enclosures.
Once evacuated, many didn’t want to leave their animals’ sides. “A lot of people were having difficulty trusting others to take care of their animals. They were traumatized and didn’t want to leave them — I know I wouldn’t, either.”
Roberts-Diem said though they’ve already been able to help at least 100 animals, she’s sure they’re going to see many more animals in need of help as repopulation of the evacuated areas begins.
“We learned a hard lesson because this area has a lot of animals in it,” she added.
Local animal sanctuary the Gentle Barn, home to more than 60 animals, was among the many forced to evacuate Thursday.
When co-founder Ellie Laks was returning home from a meeting Thursday afternoon, she saw some smoke, but upon further investigation saw that it was far enough away and thought, “Oh, we’re going to be fine,” she said.
“Not even 15 minutes later, we were getting mandatory evacuation notices and the firefighters were at our door,” Laks added. “Luckily we had some staff and volunteers on-site to help start loading animals into cars.”
The sanctuary put out a call for help on their social media, asking any volunteers or people with trucks and trailers to meet at the barn.
“People from the community came out in droves to help us carry goats and sheep onto trailers — it was pretty amazing,” she said, adding that it still took them until close to midnight to get a majority of the animals out.
By that time, the fire had begun to move away from them, and they decided to stay at the barn with the remainder of the animals that were either too sick or old to move.
“We made it through the night, and we’re really happy about that,” Laks said, adding that they remain on fire watch for the time being.
Their task today is to move the goats and sheep to a new location as they’re currently not safe from wildlife. “It’s going to be a long day.”
They are asking for the community’s support and donations to help not only them, but also others who are in need of their emergency services.
Residents who went to the College of the Canyons evacuation center were welcomed by the sight of an Animal Care and Control trailer, which was accepting pets. As of Friday morning, they had 12 cats and dogs in their care, according to officials.
Many local animal rescues’ kennels are also accepting animals, including The Castaic Canine Camp, located at 36975 Ridge Route Road, which was primarily accepting dogs, according to owner Linda Chisholm.
“It’s the least I can do,” Chisholm said. “They’re all more than welcome and there’s no charge.”
Small animals can be sheltered at any of the seven L.A. County Animal Care Centers, with the closest being the Castaic Animal Care Center, located at 31044 North Charlie Canyon Road.
The Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, located at 2551 West Avenue H in Lancaster, is still accepting large animals, while Pierce College is no longer accepting animals.
The Gentle Barn provides emergency animal evacuation and rescue transport. For more information, call 661-252-2440 or visit gentlebarn.org/animals/rescue-services.
For more information on evacuation centers, call Animal Care and Control at 661-257-3191. To learn about preparing for evacuations, read our prior story here.