Berkeley Humane lends a helping paw to animals affected by fires

Richard Chen/Staff

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Berkeley Humane is working with Marin Humane to evacuate various animals impacted by the Kincade Fire, which has burned over 75,000 acres in the Marin and Sonoma counties this week.

The recent fires have forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people in the North Bay, according to Berkeley Human spokesperson Morgan Pulleyblank in an email. As a result, owned animals in the area are in need of a safe place as their owners seek shelter. Berkeley Humane has stepped in to transfer unowned animals from Marin Humane to the Berkeley Humane facility. This will free space accommodate the emergency boarding of owned animals in the Marin facility, according to Pulleyblank. Berkeley Humane has previously supported evacuation efforts during the Carr and Tubbs fires of 2018.

“Shelter workers are accustomed to coming together to support animals in a disaster situation,” Pulleyblank said in the email. “(They) roll up their sleeves and get to work assisting those most vulnerable … We’re incredibly grateful to our (volunteers and) community for all the work they do.”

Animals being evacuated from the area include dogs, cats, birds, chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes and other reptiles, according to Lisa Bloch, director of marketing and communications for Marin Humane.

Besides Berkeley Humane, animals have also been transferred to Hopalong Animal Rescue, Humane Society Silicon Valley and San Francisco Animal Care and Control.

Berkeley Humane is also taking in animals in need of consistent medical care to lessen the burden on the Marin facility.

“This is a huge (financial) drain on our shelter,” Bloch said in an email. “Not only are we caring for all these animals but we can’t run our training classes, which helps generate income.”

President of the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy Dean Wyrzykowski said he has primarily heard of evacuation efforts from generally nonprofit private groups with limited resources and funding from governments, such as Berkeley Humane.

“My general impressions are there is a deep lack of legal protections for animals during crises,” Wyrzykowski said. “(There is) even more of a lack of enforcement of existing protections.”

Wyrzykowski said while these nonprofit private groups comprise most of the efforts to evacuate animals, he believes animal evacuations should be a government-provided service. He added that there are no systematic efforts by the government to protect animals in these situations.

Hundreds of thousands of farm animals are being affected by the Sonoma fires, Wyrzykowski said. Because many farmers have insurance on their animals, according to Wyrzykowski, some leave their animals behind when they evacuate and collect insurance payments when the animals die.

“We’ve individualized our social obligations to animals,” Wyrzykowski said. “It’s resulted in situations like this where animals are left to fend for themselves with no real protections.”

As of print time, there have been no known or recorded animal deaths or injuries during evacuation efforts or as a result of the fires, according to Pulleybank.

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed information to Mikka Cruzado. In fact, Cruzado was passing along information from Berkeley Humane spokesperson Morgan Pulleyblank.