FIRES and PETS: Animals Left to Die in Paradise CA Arson Wildfires
Officials BLOCKING Rescue Efforts
– Emergency Call to Action and Awareness
Keep in mind this is an ACTIVE CRIMINAL “GOVERNMENT” CRIME SCENE and FURTHER CRIMES ARE BEING PER”PET”RATED!
The Town of Paradise, California has and “IS” under attack!
CALL TO ACTION * Please take even one action now!
**PLEASE SHARE** with news outlets, friends & family
* PETS STILL BEHIND THE FIRE LINES NEED YOUR HELP NOW *
You will read in the links below about the situation and that many experienced groups and expert experienced animal rescuers are being turned away. Animals taken out of current shelters some taken out of the county and transported back into the Butte County into less desirable conditions. I talked to Joy of Field Haven Rescue who was given 24 hours to shut down her vet rescue for cats. She was heading back up to start preparing to shut down.
This is the overall resources site that is updating several times a day, transcribing meetings, and networking to help fulfill needs on the ground.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
This is an overwhelming situation, but your voice is powerful and important. If you’re a pet owner in the fire area, join with others and make a plan together to share tasks, below! If you
live away from the fire zone, please contact the officials and news agencies, below! If overwhelmed, do Just One Thing.
Injured and scared pets and livestock are no longer being rescued or pulled from the CampFire area. On Thursday, November 22, the North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVDAG) and Butte County Animal Control blocked all access to the animal rescue organizations who had been assisting with rescuing and feeding animals behind the lines. These evacuation teams of trained and qualified individuals had been rescuing animals from the first day of the fire and providing liaison for many of the fire survivors concerned for their pets Many of them have active fire experience and have served in multiple, dangerous disaster situations. Hundreds of volunteers were blocked out of the fire area, which left the rescue efforts (which had included them the up until that point) understaffed. Subsequently, a select few of the previous volunteers were allowed access again for animal support; however, they were restricted to feeding and watering animals sheltering in place, and no search and rescue of animals was to continue. Even with the few additional personnel, there are inadequate resources in the field to support the remaining pets and livestock with shelter-in-place support. Experienced and trained volunteers saw many pets in need of rescue as recently as early this past weekend, before they were blocked out and rescue efforts were discontinued.
Animal owners have expressed great concern. They are experiencing undue stress knowing their pet may be at large and injured, but will not be rescued. Animal owners have lost everything; their pets are their family, and their mental health is suffering. Should shelter-in-place efforts continue without adequate rescue personnel, injured pets will perish before they can receive medical attention. Temperatures are dropping, conditions are wet, with toxins on the ground, and there are not enough personnel to feed and water shelter-in-place animals daily. Injured animals do not typically expose themselves in order to find food and water; they hide, where they are vulnerable to predators and the elements. Owners in recently repopulated areas have returned to their homes to find their pets without food or water, starving and in poor physical condition, even though they were assured their pets were being cared for. Haven’t they suffered enough?
A local veterinarian treating injured Camp Fire animals stated,”there are a lot of animals remaining in heavily damaged areas, where owners cannot search for their own pets. I am concerned that the scale of the problem is much larger than currently assigned resources could handle. There is a disturbing lack of transparency in the efforts of the agency now in charge of the continuing care. Are individual animals, known to be alive last week, still being fed or, if necessary, removed? No one is providing any specifics. For both the animals and their people, a large and ongoing effort is needed to assure that as many animals as possible can be brought to safety and reunified with their already traumatized owners. Experience in other disaster suggests that far more can be done, and that it needs to be done on a long-term basis. The resources exist, but cannot gain access to do this work. Urgent calls to Animal Control are not being answered.”
While there are personnel in the fire zone, there are not enough to care for the animals being “sheltered in place” and they are no longer searching and rescuing injured, burned or starving animals. This is unacceptable for both the animals’ survival and for the undue stress for their owners, especially when there are over 100 certified and well-trained rescuers and trappers available to assist.
We hope that media attention regarding this dire situation will help to bring pressure on officials to do what’s right, and allow rescue operations to resume, as they always have done. People who have lost everything in the fire deserve to be able to trust in their officials to do everything possible to bring what’s left of their families and former life, home. For contacts who can give first-hand substantiating accounts regarding the above, and have agreed to be interviewed, contact Julie Ohashi on facebook, or @chalicegarden of #DisasterAssistTeam on twitter or at 831-244-0245. (There are also numerous accounts substantiating the above, by many rescuers, on Camp Fire animal rescue Facebook pages now, including this statement from Hold Your Horses, the other nonprofit rescue organization initially authorized by Butte County, according to Butte County Press Release, to do animal rescues behind the lines, and on the Cowboy 911, Cowboy 411, Camp Fire Paradise Ca Lost Found Animals Facebook pages.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
This is an overwhelming situation, but your voice is powerful and important. If you’re a pet owner in the fire area, join with others and make a plan together to share tasks, below! If you live away from the fire zone, please contact the officials and news agencies, below! If overwhelmed, do Just One Thing.
Please (A) contact the following officials and let them know that you (1) strongly object to certified individuals and experienced volunteers from established volunteer rescue organizations like Cowboy 911, Hold Your Horses, and Fieldhaven, being blocked from animal rescue operations by NVADG/Animal Control in the Camp Fire evac zone; (2) ask that those volunteers be allowed back into the evacuated zones, as in previous CA fires, to rescue animals immediately. Butte Co. Animal Control (AC) and NVADG have done what they felt they could, but are not equipped to handle this unprecedented magnitude of need and, as a result, countless animals are suffering. They, and their owners who have been through so much already, need your help now. Please (B) contact major news organizations and ask them to investigate this unprecedented situation (C) If you donate to any of the agencies serving animals in the area of the fire, please contact them and ask them to explain what is happening to animals behind the lines in Butte County. (D) Easy! Comment on any official you tube videos (e.g., Matt Gates’, Paradise Public Information Officer’s video here) and on official FB pages (see below). If you don’t do this, officials figure residents/pet owners are in agreement with the situation as it is.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
1) Who made the decision, after the first week, to no longer allow experienced volunteer rescuers to rescue pets in the fire zone?
2) What was their authority to make that decision (Sheriff, policy, changed, federal official from POTUS visit, emergency ops plan?)
3) Who is their boss, in the chain of command?
4) Is there an existing policy reference specifying the criterion upon which this decision was made?
If you hear that NVADG and Animal Control are working with “national rescue organizations,” ask them to be specific. (Most fire-experienced, volunteer rescuers are working with regional organizations, like Cowboy911, Hold Your Horses, and so on, or are independent, which allows them speed of activation and response. This is why they’ve been allowed in to all other major fire situations in CA, and why they were allowed in the first week after the Camp Fire disaster began.)
WHO TO CONTACT
11/28: If you’re an animal rescuer and have been turned away, or your organization has been shut down (Fieldhaven), please email Elizabeth with your experience, ASAP: email@example.com. Please communicate your concerns on local official youtube pages, including Matt Gates’, Public Information Officer’s video here, as well as phoning, tweeting, messaging, or writing a letter to the editor of your local or national newspaper: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee. Send in a tip to ABC News, CBS News, CNN News, CSNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC News, BBC World, KQED. “Do you have questions about what happens in the aftermath of the Camp Fire? Send them to us! Then tune in each weeknight at 6:30pm, starting 11/26, for a special 1/2 hour program, After Paradise, where we will cover the aftermath in-depth, with answers to your questions. North State Public Radio, 530-433-4887. Listen live here.
Make a complaint to the California Attorney General on any nonprofit organization here. Information on nonprofit complaints here.
Yuba County Office of Emergency Services and County of Sutter Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Yuba-Sutter Domestic Animal Disaster Assistance are coordinating the animal disaster response in Yuba County now (where Fieldhaven was shut down 11/28).
Assemblyman James Gallagher, (530) 420-5066, firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Edmund G.Brown: To file a formal complaint:
Edmund G. Brown, c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814, Phone: (916) 445-2841, Fax: (916) 558-3160
Butte County House Representative, Doug LaMalfa, https://lamalfa.house.gov/contact, 2862 Olive 2862 Olive Highway, Suite D, Oroville, CA 95966, (530) 534-7100 (other #s on website)
State Senator, Jim Nielsen, 916-651-4004, email@example.com
US Senator, Kamala Harris, 202-224 -3553, https://www.harris.senate.gov/contact/email
US Senator, Dianne Feinstein, 619-231-9712, https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me
Oversees CARES, firstname.lastname@example.org
California Animal Welfare Association, Office: 510.525.2744
Cindi Dunsmoor, Emergency Services Officer 530.552.3333
City Council Liaison: email@example.com
Mayor’s Office: Reanette Fillmer (Vice Mayor) firstname.lastname@example.org and Sean Morgan (Mayor) email@example.com
Chamber of Commerce Asst. VP, Kelsey Torres, 530-891-5556 ext 307, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheriff Honea (530) 538-7321; 5 Gillick Way; Oroville, CA 95965
Butte County Board of Supervisors: Bill Connelly 530.538.6834; Larry Wahl 530.891.0686; Maureen Kirk 530.891.2800; Steve Lambert 530.538.2516; Doug Teeter 530.872.6304
UPDATES 11/29 (last 10:30a)
Animals reported being seen behind the lines. Outside NVADG/AC rescuer volunteers who were allowed in to rescue until last week, still not allowed to rescue. Please go to community meeting tonight! Crucial to let officials know pet owners’ and others’ feelings about this, to demand answers and investigation, and to open the lines to rescuers. Camp Fire pets and their owners should not have to suffer any more, and they’ve certainly suffered enough. It is imperative that local pet owners make their views and needs known.
7:40pm: NVADG has updated its website today to say it welcomes working with national rescue orgs. (Most volunteer rescue organizations are regional.) NVADG posted the following message on FB very late last night (that link contains many scathing comments/experiences of pet owners and rescuers):
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE HELPED! The North Valley Animal Disaster Group wants to publicly acknowledge and thank all the volunteers who have helped make this unprecedented disaster run as smoothly as possible. Without mutual aid from recognized non-profit organizations, we could not have helped as many animals as we have. Some of the groups we have partnered with in this emergency have been: International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Red Rover, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), American Humane Association (AHA), and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), among others.
There has been some confusion about the protocol and process for allowing rescue groups beyond the fire lines. In order for all mutual aid partners to understand the process and protocols, the agencies in Butte County involved in the management of this incident have developed the following:
Rescue and shelter-in-place efforts are being handled by organizations approved by Butte County Animal Control and the Incident Management Team. Volunteer groups, such as the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, do not determine which teams are allowed into the evacuation areas.
Groups not approved to work beyond the evacuation lines by Emergency Management are not being allowed past the roadblocks. The main issue with these groups is that they are not trained in the system designed by Butte County to keep track of animals and ensure the animals will be returned to their rightful owner. (emphasis added) As such, when they remove an animal from its shelter-in-place location, they are essentially illegally removing the animal and making future reunification with the owner much more difficult. Only groups that are approved through the Emergency Management leadership are allowed to assist animals behind the fire lines, both for the safety of the responders, as well as to keep track of the animals for purposes of future reunification.
The North Valley Animal Disaster Group, along with assistance from mutual aid Animal Control Officers, and National Guard troops, are sending over 50 teams a day into the field. Yesterday we visited over 600 locations behind the fire lines and delivered over 87 tons of food to needy animals. We could not do this without your support. We continue to work alongside our partners until every animal is reunited with its owner.
[Note: 6 teams made it behind the lines yesterda–not 50. Experienced animal rescue volunteers have rescued in active fire situations. They know how to assess and mitigate risks. They are also experienced in how to deal with TRAUMATIZED animals, unlike recently hired Animal Control workers. That the poster focuses on whether or not rescuers know how to log animals properly as a reason to deny them the ability to SAVE ANIMALS’ LIVES speaks for itself.]
2:00 pm: FieldHaven Feline Center has been shut down. They are an EXCELLENT, small organization, sheltering Camp Fire cats for 3 weeks, and were under pressure for 24 hours from the same commenters that have been challenging any negative post about NVADG and telling Fieldhaven to shut down/transfer all their cats to official NVADG shelters “for the good of the animals.” Now the cats there, receiving excellent care, will be transferred to overcrowded NVADG shelters, “for the good of the animals.” Fieldhaven were told they “illegally took animals out of the county and must return them to Animal Control.” 5:00 pm: Fieldhaven clarifies they would like pet owners to go to the meeting Thursday evening. They wish they could continue serving cats. They suggest contacting Butte County for more information and to register concerns. (link to their comments). Here is Fieldhaven’s statement this morning:
There is so much more to do but our role as working under the direction of Yuba County Office of Emergency Services and County of Sutter Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and partnering with Yuba-Sutter Domestic Animal Disaster Assistance has come to a close. We have provided shelter for nearly 100 cats. We have reunited many families with their lost cats. Thank you to these great partners for providing the resources to do a great job. Whiteaker Hall at Sutter County Sheriff’s Posse is the most incredible venue we could ever wish for.
Yes, we have done a helluva job. One we couldn’t have done without everyone’s support.
The shelter here at 44 2nd Avenue in Yuba City will be closing tomorrow, 11/29.
While we had truly hoped we could continue on with aiding the recovery effort, our offers to Butte County to assist as a supporting organization have been repeatedly gone unanswered. If at a future time we can step back in to help with the recovery effort, if we are able we will absolutely be there. Because helping cats and people in need is what we do.
Thank you to our partners, Alley Cat Allies, Found Animals Foundation and all of YOU.
In addition to the above “who to contact,” please communicate your concerns ASAP on local official youtube videos, including Matt Gates’, Public Information Officer’s video here. Are you, or do you know someone not allowed to cross the fire lines to rescue pets still left there, any time in the past 2 weeks? Please contact, or have them contact, email@example.com, TODAY with details of story.
9:32 pm: People were able to speak with attorneys at tonight’s meeting who said they would help try and figure out how to resume rescue operations. In the meantime, mark your calendar and get your questions ready (e.g., “Why aren’t more experienced rescuers/trappers allowed to get surviving pets off the hill?” “Who made the decision to “shelter in place” and stop rescuing?” “How do we get our pets out of that toxic environment?” Help us to help them by letting your local officials know that you do not agree with the inadequate resources currently in place for the Camp Fire surviving pets! The Butte Co page just posted this: COMMUNITY MEETING…Thursday, November 29, 2018 7-9pm, Pleasant Valley High Performing Arts Center, 1475 East Ave, Chico. Butte County and the Town of Paradise are partnering with other local, state, and federal agencies to host a community meeting for fire survivors to provide an update on search and recovery efforts and discuss available resources: https://www.facebook.com/events/714269138944945/ 2:30 pm: Pet owners and concerned others: Those working on the ground in the evacuated zone (utility companies, emergency services) reported seeing many pets behind the lines just yesterday. Ask for more, experienced pet rescuers/trappers to be allowed behind the lines to rescue animals immediately. Ask for pet owners to be escorted to their property to search for their pet. There are numerous, first-hand accounts of pets who have not been rescued but seen; experienced rescuers are required in a difficult situation such as this, to coax hiding, frightened animals out despite the noise. Tell your friends: pet owners must unite and press for answers and additional experienced, volunteer rescue access, immediately. Consider spreading the idea of leaving out pet food just outside the evac zones, and requesting AC (Animal Control/NVADG) to leave pet food stations in a line toward the nonevac zone, so pets will move OUT of the evacuated areas on their own. Consider joining with others, making covered cat-litter-box shelters with hay inside for warmth for cats and small animals, leaving them just outside the evac zone. ***Rain and snow are coming*** Here is a post from Will Dyslin (confirming), Yuba Shelter Food Bank Lead, now working to feed animals with NVADG/AC: “…animals are being fed in the fire area everyday no stop. We have pushed out over 60 tons over the weekend. I can’t tell you how many animals have been taken out because that’s not part of my job, but I know lots have come out and tons have been fed. Even the deer and wildlife got fed. Yes, if a bag of food gets broken we put it in buckets and the USDA Animal Control and NVADG take it out and drop it for the wild animals who have lost their homes..Army [NOTE: must mean Nat’l Guard] came in today, well weekend warriors at least, but they rolled in with 20 5 ton trucks and 10 1 tons to help us set up 3 new drop points where people can go get hay and animal feed…” Concern appears now to be whether injured/scared animals will/can come out to feed, and leaving pets up in evac zone in toxins and upcoming concerning weather. Having additional, experienced rescue volunteers working with NVADG/AC would alleviate that concern.
9:30pm Summary of press briefing by Butte Co. agencies and personnel. (Animal Control not there. No questions asked about animals behind the lines.) 7:15 pm Animal Control/NVADG rescued some animals today. Some independent, experienced rescuers attempting to rescue today still not allowed in behind the fire line. Eyewitness accounts: still a LOT of pets behind the fire lines. 11:00 am: Julie has posted the entire email exchange between a rescuer and the Vice President of NVADG here. Post and comments on FB thread documenting continued behind-the-lines sightings, and continued need for pet owners’ animals to be rescued. (Also a good thread to read for those seeking their missing pets.) [Thank you for continuing to contact officials and news organizations to investigate and create pressure to immediately allow as many experienced rescuer volunteers up to rescue pets from behind the lines ASAP! Injured pets do not come out to feed. They need to be trapped and removed to safety. -cg]
7:30pm: (The below was written today & posted on FB by Julie Ohashi, who is affiliated with independent animal rescue trappers, not a nonprofit, not CB911, etc.)
CALL TO ACTION 11/25/18
WHO: Owners & advocates of pets alive inside the Butte Co. Camp Fire evacuation zones
WHAT: Butte County Animal Control (AC) is not allowing experienced cat trappers to rescue your family pets. We have over 100 open tickets, from just the past few days, who have not heard back from NVADG. AC has stated that they are focusing on sheltering in place (feeding/watering instead of rescuing) as it’s safer for the animals. However, the vet who saw the kitty here [pic of recently rescued cat] stated that the hair loss on belly is likely due from toxins that she was left to lay in for weeks after the fire. Dire medical cases have been pulled in the past few days & veterinarians saying even a half day more without treatment they would’ve died. Animals are indeed suffering and dying while trained trappers are being turned away. Experienced trappers on the ground have stated that at least 50 trapping teams would be needed to handle the amount of kitties that are running around still. We’ve had less than 6 teams/day getting access to trap and now none at all. There’s a file in main office just for “Trap Cases” that we were told when the “specialized cat trappers” get there they are going to give it to. Problem is, our experienced trappers are there but AC refuses to let them trap. *Pet owners and guardians must demand that experienced trappers be allowed access to resume rescue efforts immediately*
6:35pm: Experienced rescue volunteers working under NVADG did bring some cats out today. One such rescuer saw many deer, one cat, and was able to trap another cat. Unconfirmed: burned cats being brought out for treatment; are easier to catch now because they are weak. Trying to confirm whether or not rescues will continue tomorrow and going forward. FEMA to be taking control tonight. Not sure what that will mean for rescue efforts. 11:50 am: If you have a missing pet behind the fire lines, it’s imperative you call NVADG hotline 530-895-0000 now, and consider posting pic, detailed description, address ASAP here. 10:30 am: At least some volunteer animal rescuers sworn in this morning. Will follow situation to determine whether or not this continues beyond today, and will provide updates on today later today. 11:00: this may be the last day of animal rescue, as FEMA is moving in.
9:00 pm: Cowboy 911 asked by NVADG/AC to obtain trucks/drivers to feed/water in evac zone tomorrow. Posted on 11/22 at 2:10 pm by Willmer Dyslin on Cowboy 911 FB page: “I am at 2800 Richter in Oroville. Justin has just posted his staement on the mission he was doing. This is true. I am the logistics warehouse manager I give all the food out to the people who did drive in. As of midnight last night, the Cowboy911 program has been stopped. Animal Control and NVADG are the ones going into the fire area to feed. I was in the meeting last night with EOC, so I know what I am saying. If you have questions, please call I will tell you all I know on this. (707) 245-6072. Thank you. Don’t bash other groups who are on ground here with me please, they are right here with me.” 7:45 pm: Person behind the lines mid-day and this afternoon in Megalia and Paradise observed cats sheltering with deer. Did not observe any Animal Control personnel, nor any food or water in evidence. 7:30 pm: Cowboy911 confirms trucks will now be going in tomorrow to help Animal Control feed/water animals. BOTG yesterday saw large area with no food or water left on afternoon of 11/22 in Paradise. Evacuated area is 161,000 acres. Injured animals tend to hide. Please continue contacts, above, ask for investigation, particularly when there are conflicting accounts from respected, long-time rescuers, and multiple agencies disseminating info. Volunteers blocked since Thursday means no confirmation of the VP’s statement from outside of AC/NVADG. 3:42 pm: VP of NVADG wrote the following post on FB: “Cowboy 911 will have teams going out tomorrow with teams from Butte Co. Animal Control and NVADG. Additional teams from the National Guard may also be available. We will continue the established feeding and watering schedule, as we have the last two weeks. Any injured, or at risk animals are captured and evacuated for medical care. I can tell you after spending several days in the fire area that there are not “many” injured animals as been reported on social media. In fact, I have not seen an injured animal in several days. We routinely provide food and water for the outdoor cats. In fact, every single time we saw an area that might have outdoor cats, we left food and water in multiple locations. We do understand cats, and are very concerned about their welfare.”
8:00 pm: Butte County Sheriff released a statement. Again, appears to be in contrast to an impressive number of boots-on-the-ground experienced rescuer accounts of what is occurring in the evacuated areas, and in contrast to AC’s stated number of trucks and personnel as compared with evacuated acreage (too few vehicles/personnel to daily feed/water across acreage). It does, however, appear to confirm the report from our volunteer, below. Butte County Animal Control, North Valley Animal Disaster Group and Cowboy 911 are working together to care for animals in the #CampFire evacuation zones. Animals within these evacuation zones are safe. Each animal is on a feed and welfare schedule. This schedule is highly detailed and includes location, condition, feeding information, and anything applicable to the animal’s health. For these animals, caring for them while they shelter in place is better than bringing them to already impacted shelters. These animals are in their own, familiar environment, which is better for their mental health. We understand that separation from animals is incredibly difficult for owners, but we also know they want what’s best for their animal’s overall health and well-being. Once the evacuation orders are lifted for these areas, owners will be able to access a detailed database for information on their animal and be reunited with them. -Butte County Sheriff [Note: Animal behavior research demonstrates that wildlife do better in their established environment. However, pets do better with their owners.] 7:22 pm: One of our rescuers spoke in person with Chico Animal Shelter this afternoon, and was told Animal Control has shut down all animal rescue, and is allowing no one behind the Paradise fire line to rescue or feed/water known pets there. They will not be bringing pets down at this point. Therefore, If a survivor’s pet is not in a shelter now, it is highly unlikely it will arrive in the next few days, unless it was checked in days ago, transported elsewhere for treatment, and is transported back. (Also see link to FB post by a Hold Your Horses rescuer, added this evening, above.)
This is the overall resources site that Veronica is updating several times a day, transcribing meetings, and networking to help fulfill needs on the ground.