It was a mad dash to save horses and goats on a ranch in Jurupa Valley, with life hanging in the balance and seconds between flames and these animals rained officers and volunteers with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services run into help.
“Our main goal is to save and protect as many lives as we possibly can,” says Lt. James Huffman.
Huffman was among those to run into the flames of the Hill and 46th fires in Jurupa Valley to rescue the most vulnerable.
“It can be scary typically you’re out there fire engines are rolling by you the sheriff’s department is rolling by you everything’s as hurried as you can possibly be so you get things done as quickly as you can safely get them done,” he says.
Nearly 60 animals large and small were rescued during the fast moving Hill and 46th Fires in Jurupa Valley, and trying to save them is not easy.
“Dealing with them during these wildfires is unlike the vast majority of the time when we’re handling animals … even the nicest dogs are going to run and hide and snap because they’re afraid, they don’t understand what’s going on and it makes our job even more difficult,” says Huffman.
But once they’re safe at the shelter offered rest and food they feel at ease. Here the horses are happy and curious, goats are being goats and bunnies are wiggling their noses once again.
“You can see that change happen over the first couple of hours and they go back from being a scared instinctual animal back to the pet the household pet that they normally are,” says Huffman.
But Huffman who is willing to risk his life to save these creatures says he’s not a hero, “I like being the person who is able that’s able to do something to help the critters.”
To volunteer for the emergency rescue operations visit: Riverside County Department of Animal Services