RANCHO SANTA FE — The Bernardo Fire, which started early Tuesday morning at 4S Ranch spread quickly, prompting evacuation alerts in parts of Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.
Swift mobilization efforts to transport animals out of the Helen Woodward Center occurred when the evacuation notices were given.
A total of 400 animals were transported out of the area.
“Volunteers just showed up with their trucks and horse trailers,” said Jessica Gercke, public relations manager at Helen Woodward Animal Center.
Facilities which opened their doors to help the animals included SeaWorld, Pooch Pet Hotel, PETCO, and Mission Animal and Bird Hospital.
“Everyone was wonderful,” Gercke said. “SeaWorld was fabulous because they have a great veterinarian team to help our special need animals, our animals recovering from surgery, and also our exotic animals.”
Gercke got word from SeaWorld that the Helen Woodward animals were already fed breakfast and getting prepared to transport them back to Rancho Santa Fe.
“We are being cautious but don’t want to overburden any of these kind businesses which have lent us support,” said Gercke, noting how all was looking safe at the Ranch. Yesterday, air quality was very poor and that concerned the Center.
“We were worried about the fire yesterday, but also worried about the all of the animals that were outdoors and breathing in that ash and smoke,” she said. Gercke continued, “Right now, the air is great and very clear so we feel that they are in a good position to come back.”
Gercke sent many thanks to all of the firefighters who helped and got the fire under control.
“San Diego is such a town of animal lovers and you see it in times like this — it’s been really touching,” she said.
For updates on the Helen Woodward Animal Center and how people can show their support even for the businesses who helped during the fire, Gercke asks that everyone log onto their Facebook page at facebook.com/ helenwoodwardanimalcenter.