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SD County Animal Services rescues over 100 animals following Border 32 Fire

Animals were taken to its Bontia animal shelter.
Border 32 Fire
Border 32 Fire
Posted at 6:32 AM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 13:29:04-04

DULZURA, Calif. (KGTV) — As firefighters raced to contain the brush fire in Dulzura dubbed the Border 32 fire, animal search and rescue crews rushed into the fray to rescue people’s four-legged friends.

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

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

"I'm just praying, you know. This is the best I can do,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins' prayers are for her missing horse Rusty follow the raging wildfire in Dulzura on Wednesday.Rusty's one of her horses that she's had for more than a decade.

RELATED: Family's ranch damaged, animals perish in Border 32 fire

Gaskins tells ABC 10News her sister had to let the horses loose with the fire coming towards their property. Unfortunately, the Border 32 fire took her other horse, Dude, from her.

"I was able to go up and identify him which was hard,” Gaskins said.

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

"It just moved so fast yesterday that there was nothing anyone could do,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins and her family may have been unlucky.

But, well-trained crews with the San Diego County Animal Services and San Diego Humane Society have gotten plenty of calls with the fire to help get other pets out.

RELATED: Border 32 Fire scorches more than 4,200 acres in Dulzura

"You definitely have to stay focused on the animals; making sure you're there for them.” Lt. Talia Padilla of the San Diego County Animal Services said. "You definitely are trying to beat the clock at that point in time."

The task has presented its own challenges during the wildfire.

"We've had properties that just have a lot, a lot of animals on them,” Padilla said. "That was absolutely the entirety of my night last night which is why I only got about 20 minutes of sleep last night. We were stuck on a property for a couple of hours I believe, and we had to call in as many teams as possible for the number of animals on that property."

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

"A great feeling for us to be able to get these animals out, get them to safety either at our shelter or if we can return them to their owners,” Padilla said. “And, seeing the happiness on their owners' faces knowing that their animals are safe, that makes all of this worthwhile."

The County Animal Services’ director told ABC 10News they’ve been able to rescue 111 animals and take into their Bontia shelter.

The Humane Society is also holding a temporary shelter for pets who evacuated with their owners at Mountain Empire High School.