San Diego

Donkeys, Emus and Other Animals Rescued in Border Fire, Then Reunited With Owners

As crews work to contain the massive Border Fire burning in southeast San Diego County, countless animals left temporarily homeless are reuniting with their owners.

Over the past several days, San Diego County Animal Control workers and the San Diego Humane Society have been scooping up wayward animals, including horses, chickens, donkeys, emus, dogs, sheep and rabbits, and keeping them at makeshift shelter locations.

On Thursday, many of them went home.

About 20 horses were picked up Thursday from a shelter set up at the Circle T Ranch. Seven belong to Bill Butters of Campo. He said he was extremely grateful for the shelter.

And he would know — he opened up his own ranch as a shelter during the 2003 Cedar Fire.

“I used to be in emergency animal rescue and when I’ve gone on rescues and you only have 10 or 15 minutes to get out because the fire’s close … you usually have a problem,” he said.

The owner of Circle T Ranch, Lisa Lightfoot, said things at her makeshift shelter went smoothly. She credits Border Patrol officers, who for the first time took part in animal rescue efforts.

The officers shuttled supplies to animal owners, she said.

San Diego County Animal Services also on Thursday released photos of some of the rescued animals. Check out the gallery above.

The animal organization said Wednesday in a Facebook post it took on the role of "Donkey Uber" to help a homeowner who had no way to evacuate their donkeys.

The organization recommends having a disaster plan for pets in place.

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