Wildfire forces shelter to evacuate 400 animals

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SAN DIEGO – A fast-paced wildfire blacked hundreds of acres and forced a large animal shelter in Rancho Santa Fe to evacuated hundreds of animals Tuesday.

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PHOTOS: Bernardo Fire

Helen Woodward Animal Center staff members and volunteers transported horses, dogs, cats, desert tortoises and other animals to SeaWorld, Del Mar Fairgrounds and other pet shelters around San Diego County.

The fire was just down the road and the facility was ordered to evacuate.

“That’s part of the reason we wanted to get the animals out, there’s also the air quality, we can go inside a building, but a lot of these animals are outdoors, we don’t want them breathing all the smoke and ash,” said Jessica Gercke, Helen Woodward Animal Center Public Relations Manager.

There were some animals, like a handful of horses, that would not be moved unless it was absolutely necessary due to recent surgeries and other procedures so they stayed behind with a few staff members from the HWAC. Fortunately the fire threat died down and were able to shelter in place.