Animal services

SD County Animal Services rescues over 100 animals after Border 32 fire

DULZURA, Calif. (KGTV) – As firefighters rushed to contain the brush fire in Dulzura dubbed the Border 32 Fire, animal search and rescue teams rushed into the fray to save friends at four legs of people.

The terrain at this location is one of the issues county animal services crews mentioned to ABC 10News.

They and the San Diego Humane Society were able to take the pets out or check on them the next day. But some people like Michaela Gaskins’ horses have been as lucky as other pets.

“I just pray, you know. It’s the best I can do,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins’ prayers are for his missing horse Rusty after the wildfire raged in Dulzura on Wednesday. Rusty is one of her horses that she has had for over a decade.

RELATED: Family Ranch Damaged, Animals Perish in Border Fire 32

Gaskins tells ABC 10News that his sister must have unleashed the horses with the fire heading towards their property. Unfortunately, the fire at Border 32 took his other horse, Dude, from him.

“I was able to come up and identify him, which was difficult,” Gaskins said.

Her family’s property also suffered property damage and lost more animals.

“It happened so fast yesterday that there was nothing anyone could do,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins and his family may have been unlucky.

But well-trained teams from San Diego County Animal Services and the San Diego Humane Society have received numerous calls with fire to help get other pets out.

RELATED: Border 32 Fire burns over 4,200 acres in Dulzura

“You absolutely have to stay focused on the animals; make sure you’re there for them.” San Diego County Animal Services Lt. Talia Padilla said, “You’re definitely trying to beat the clock at this time.”

The task presented its own challenges during the wildfire.

“We’ve had properties that just have lots and lots of animals on them,” Padilla said. “It was absolutely my entire night last night which is why I only slept about 20 minutes last night. We were stuck on a property for a few hours I believe and had to call as many teams as possible for the number of animals on this property.”

The lesser-known teams making a difference in the midst of firefighting.

“A great feeling for us to be able to get these animals out, get them to safety either in our shelter or if we can get them back to their owners,” Padilla said. “And, seeing the happiness on their owners’ faces knowing their pets are safe, it’s all worth it.”

The county’s director of animal services told ABC 10News that they were able to rescue 111 animals and welcome them to their Bontia shelter.

The Humane Society is also organizing a temporary shelter for pets that have been evacuated with their owners to Mountain Empire High School.