The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County prompted large-scale evacuations on Oct. 26 and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. But it wasn’t just humans that were displaced by the fire — pets and animals living at shelters also had to evacuate.
A total of 42 animals were evacuated from the Humane Society of Sonoma County and taken to Petaluma. But when evacuation orders reached Petaluma two days later, Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took in 15 dogs and 20 cats. A shelter in nearby Placer County received the remaining five dogs and four cats.
Kenn Altine, CEO of Sacramento SPCA, said that as wildfires have forced more people from their homes in recent years, animal shelter evacuations have also become more common. But the process can be complicated.
“What we have found over the last few years, is that those protocols and procedures really aren’t in place for animals,” he said.
Altine said SPCA organizations, which are independent from one another, have found ways to assist one another and help house animals during disasters. Altine said that during a wildfire like the Kincade Fire, the first priority is to get the adoptable animals away from the fires.
Brian Probst, director of volunteer and community program at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, said his shelter also received displaced animals from the North Bay Humane Society in Vallejo, where a wildfire broke out and prompted evacuations on Oct. 27 .
“We have an emergency response team that will respond to disasters in the area, we are not first responders, but we work in conjunction with the county and the Red Cross,” said Probst.
Probst said that animals that his shelter took in were a mixture of adoptable animals and lost animals due to the fires. He indicated that most of the lost animals are tagged and will be reunited with their families.
Salma Loum graduated from Misr International University with a bachelor’s degree in radio and television with a focus on documentary filmmaking. She moved from Cairo, Egypt to the United States at the age of 21 after covering the Egyptian Revolutions from 2011 to 2013. During that time, she worked as a war zone camera operator at Sky News Arabia, BBC Arabia and multiple local news channels. After moving to the U.S., she shifted her career to cinematography and filmmaking, which has been her passion for the last five years. She joined the master’s program as her focus shifted towards human and animals rights’ violations. Her interests include yoga, hiking and traveling the world. She is excited to use the skills she learns at Stanford University to create effective stories about human rights’ violations around the world.