IMPACT
09/14/2015 06:05 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2015

How To Help Animals Displaced By Northern California Wildfire Evacuation

"The community support has been overwhelming."

While Northern California burns, local animal shelters and rescue groups are working hard to make sure that pets evacuated from the wildfires will stay safe -- and they can use your help.

As the brutal wildfires advancethousands of people are worrying about their homes, their neighbors and the things they left behind -- including, in some cases, their animals.

For those who evacuated with their animals, staff and volunteers from Petaluma Animal ServicesWine Country Animal Lovers, the Sonoma Humane Society, Compassion Without Borders, the Jameson Rescue Ranch and a host of other nonprofits, businesses and animal-loving individuals, are working day and night to keep displaced pets fed, hydrated, housed and comfortable. They're trying to give the evacuees one less thing to worry about.

"This is a pretty scary situation," said Alissa McNair, vice president of Wine Country Animal Lovers. "A lot of us are working knowing our colleagues and family members have lost their homes."

Over the weekend, the groups involved with caring for these animals asked for donations of crates, food, collars, leashes, litter boxes, hay and other supplies. People responded so generously and swiftly that by Sunday evening, it was announced that rescuers at the fairground had enough supplies.

Folks have also opened their homes to animals with nowhere to go. For example, the Sonoma Humane Society and Wine Country Animal Lovers took in animals from a shelter in neighboring Lake County, where cats and dogs had been at risk of euthanasia, to make room for fire evacuees.

Instead, these pets are now safely in foster homes, said Kiska Icard, Sonoma Humane Society's executive director -- who spoke to The Huffington Post as she was heading over to the fairgrounds to take over for some other animal workers, who'd been up for more than two days straight 

"The community support has been overwhelming," she said.

There are still ongoing needs: People and animals fleeing the fire have decamped to the Moose Lodge in Clearlake Oaks, which told the Record-Bee that donations were welcome, especially food for cats, dogs and horses.

“We’re trying to get a stock pile of it going so people who aren’t here who are evacuating horses can take it to where they need it,” said Moose Lodge member Rhiannon Garcia said to the newspaper. “I know there’s a lot of people that are just in the parking lots and various spots that don’t have food. They can come and pick it up and take it.” 

More temporary foster homes are needed, as well as permanent adopters. Look for the Lake County and other animals' listings on the Wine Country Animal Lovers and Sonoma Humane Society Facebook pages. Out-of-staters are welcome to submit adoption applications.

And though Petaluma Animal Services executive director Jeff Charter hates asking -- it "seems kind of shameless," he said -- financial donations are especially crucial.

"What's really helpful right now is to be able to run to the store and buy what we need," said Charter. "We're able to because of all the help we're getting from the public."

Petaluma Animal ServicesSonoma Humane SocietyWine Country Animal LoversCompassion Without Borders, the Moose Lodge and the Jameson Rescue Ranch are all posting regular updates to Facebook -- they'll list what supplies are currently needed and how to donate or otherwise help them protect pets affected by the fire.

Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com if you know someone who's helping animals survive the fires, or have another animal story to share.

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