Animal rescuers seek shelter from West Fire at Lakeside Rodeo

Posted at 10:05 PM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-07 22:01:25-04

Update: All animals were reunited with their owners and the Lakeside Rodeo closed as an evacuation shelter Saturday afternoon.

LAKESIDE (KGTV) - Good Samaritans rescued horses, and other large animals from the West Fire and brought them to the Lakeside Rodeo for shelter.

Around 3 p.m. Friday, the rodeo opened up their grounds to the more than a dozen horses, miniature horses, goats and alpacas.

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Those who came in with animals informed volunteers of the animal's health, description, where they were picked up and what they know about the owner, hoping to reunite them. Some were strangers, risking their lives to help.

"We stayed in Palo Verde Ranch and went driveway by driveway and they were already under a mandatory evacuation so we took any animals that were left there," Susie said. 
Owners like Lola Jones, unable to get out with their horses.
"It was just this wall of orange husband said grab some clothes get in the car and leave," Jones called people like Susie, angels.
"It was excruciating heat... and all of the sudden you would look up and it reignited again and we’re like you gotta get out of here, and of course my son Tyler’s like 'Mom we need to get out! Mom we need to run! we need to run!' And I’m like, 'We’re getting those two little minis, or we’re getting those chickens," Susie said.
Owners who could rescue some of their livestock were filled with relief once at the rodeo.
"I’m going to cry, yeah I’m doing better, we’re doing better with the animals safe, that’s all I care about," Erin Robillard said. She had to leave their chickens behind and said she's fearful for the fate of her home.
At the rodeo, volunteers showed up in droves, "I just came here to help if anybody needed help with the horses," Jaimi Thompson said. Her young daughter worried as well for the wellbeing of the horses, saying it must have been scary for them.
"I decided to grab the pickle buckets and chili buckets from my work and bring them here so that they could use them," Volunteer Cassidy Gage said.
"We came over to donate some feed for the horses," Nicole Lee said. The volunteers all working for the moment a person is reunited with their animal.
"Oh my god it’s so good, I've had Royal for 20 years," Jones said with a huge smile, hugging Binky, the pony standing next to Royal.
The County of San Diego Animal Services is hoping all of the animals get claimed on Saturday. They 
will take the remaining animals to the South County Animal Shelter in Bonita on Sunday. 
An evacuation center is open at Las Coches Creek Middle School in El Cajon. People and pets are welcome - and the San Diego Humane Society is accepting donations here. To donate to the San Diego Red Cross, click here.