San Diego

‘A lot of singed fur': San Diego Humane Society volunteers return from Maui relief mission

"It was really devastating and there's not a lot left," said volunteer Summer Piper

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When Summer Piper with the San Diego Humane Society Emergency Response Team got to Lahaina on Aug. 14, she had to take a pause to process what she was seeing.

“It was a lot of houses in a compact area that just no longer existed,” Piper recalled.

The devastation she saw told her she had a lot of work ahead of her. The Lahaina Fire in Maui killed at least 115 people. The last thing she wanted these people in crisis to worry about was their pets.

“There were a lot of burns,” Piper said. “A lot of singed fur. We could also see other types of injuries like escape mechanism injuries where they may have injured limbs, feet or have sustained lacerations.”

Her team of four divided to accomplish several missions: feeding animals, vet care, search and rescue, and trapping. The trapping mission was to find and secure cats and dogs that were skittish and potentially injured so they could be rehabilitated. Her team aided all types of animals ranging from cats, dogs, pigs, goats, horses and sheep.

Piper put the destruction she saw into perspective.

“Here in California, we're used to hearing hundreds of thousands of acres or even thousands and thousands of acres,” she said. “And there was 2,000 acres, but the amount of devastation that it created was substantially more than some of our larger fires here.”

One of her biggest takeaways now that she’s back in San Diego is the reminder to always have an exit plan.

“There's a lot of people out there that are hurting, that are missing,“ she said. “So, I'm sorry they're missing their family members and they may not have had time even to grab them. The more that you can prepare yourself now, the better off you'll be if you only have minutes to leave.”

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