By Carol Bogart, Sacramento Nature Examiner
Pets and livestock are now safe that were left behind as homeowners and ranchers evacuated quickly ahead of the Yolo County wildfire that scorched more than 6,000 acres. While the Monticello wildfire raged out of control, the Animal Services Section at the Yolo County Sheriff's Office was hard at work, moving the stranded animals to safe ground.
Over the 4th of July weekend, the wildfire near Winters “turned into a mandatory evacuation,” said Yolo Animal Services' business manager Vicky Fletcher, explaining that an evacuation order means ‘get out now and take with you what you can.’ She said, “For many of those folks, they did not have the equipment or the people to get all those animals out. We were able to make that happen for them.”
Fletcher was on site, organizing and dispatching Animal Services employees and department vehicles, while also assigning Sheriff’s Posse volunteers who had come to help.
So many animals needed to be moved that it was a scramble to make the whole thing work, said Fletcher. “We hauled 30 Alpaca to other ranches, 12 horses, some to other locations and some to Animal Services: 10 sheep to our (Woodland) shelter, three goats to our shelter, two donkeys to our shelter.”
People who evacuated with their pets but then had nowhere to take them got assistance, too, said Fletcher. “Everyone found a place to take their dogs and cats. We had already boxed five cats at one ranch and then the owner, who had been away for the (4th of July) holiday, arrived and took them over.”
Yesterday, (Monday July 7), Yolo Animal Services staff and the Sheriff’s Posse volunteers were returning the livestock and pets to their owners after the evacuation order was lifted and the owners could go back home.
“It went well for us and everyone has been very grateful for the help,” Fletcher said. "That’s what we are here for, so I believe we successfully did our job. It is still a mess up there, but hopefully all will work (out) well.”
On Tuesday, July 8 the wildfire was 55 percent contained, according to Cal Fire in a morning update, and all evacuation orders had been lifted. Firefighters from various departments in Yolo and other counties are still battling drought-dry brush fires near Lake Berryessa, hampered by searing heat and difficult terrain.
Sacramento Nature Examiner Carol Bogart is an independent journalist. Read more of her work at www.westsacweb.com.