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2:14 PM   October 30, 2014
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Pet Industry Aids Animal Fire Victims

Fire evacuees arrive at a Red Cross Shelter in Lake Forest, Calif.
As wildfires forced people from their homes in Southern California this October, pet product manufacturers, retailers and distributors stepped in to aid pet owners and their animals.

For example, to assist retailers affected by the wildfires, Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. rolled out a pair of billing initiatives for independent dealers in California. First, the company froze all current balances as of Oct. 25 and made them payable by Dec. 15. Moreover, the company extended terms to 90 days for all orders placed by Nov. 24.

“The holiday season is only three weeks away and it is vital that retailers are given the tools to get back on their feet and be prepared for the selling season,” said Trevor Hagen, chief operating officer for the company, in announcing the program in late October.

Pet retail giants Petco and Petsmart both contributed directly to the efforts with supplies and personnel.

Petco, which is headquartered in San Diego, the hardest-hit county, was on the scene early, bringing truckloads of supplies from its Mira Loma, Calif., distribution center directly to evacuation centers. It also opened its store shelves to pet shelters and other groups.

The retailer’s suppliers did not hesitate to lend a hand, either, according to Don Cowan, a media spokesman for Petco.

“Before we even started thinking about this effort, they were calling us,” he said. “There’s just been a tremendous outpouring of support.”

Evacuees at El Toro High School get some much-needed rest.
Petsmart Charities sent two trailers of pet supplies to San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, each with enough to support up to 500 animals, the Phoenix company said.

Both retailers set up fund-raisers to aid pet owners.

DogCatRadio delivered 2 tons of pet food donated by Natural Balance to displaced pet owners at San Bernardino’s Fairgrounds and Qualcomm Stadium.

Iams pet food reported it donated 18,000 pounds of cat and dog food to an animal center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. It also launched a veterinary-staffed hotline for pet owners with concerns about their animals.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition shipped about 50,000 pounds of Science Diet and Prescription Diet to veterinary clinics, hospitals and other groups working to aid pets affected by the fires. More companies and retailers were coming forward at press time.

In addition, veterinary groups, such as the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn., stepped in to treat evacuated animals, both at shelters and in animal hospitals. Petsmart’s business partner Banfield also dispatched its 32-foot mobile emergency pet hospital to assist with emergencies.

Southern California VCA Animal Hospitals also offered free boarding for companion animals whose families were evacuated or displaced due to the fires.

Harry Davies sits with his dog, two cats and bird at the Red Cross shelter, El Toro High School, Lake Forest, Calif.

On the ground, many said they were surprised at how well everyone seemed to be fairing in the temporary shelters. On the third day of the relief efforts, the animal-friendly Del Mar Fairgrounds posted a message that volunteers were no longer needed and “we currently have what we need for evacuees.” It did, however ask for hay and large water jugs for the horses.

The American Kennel Club said it made dozens of calls with offers of help to its affiliates and animal shelters but were initially turned down.

“Everyone says thanks but no thanks,” said Daisy Okas, a media spokeswoman for the AKC. “It doesn’t seem to be like Katrina. The disaster mechanisms are already in place, which is a good thing.”

Despite a lack of current need, Dennis Sprung, AKC’s president and chief executive officer, said the organization will continue to offer help. It coordinated with the president of the California Federation of Dog Clubs to send crates, food and other goods for storage at the California School of Dog Grooming in San Diego in case the situation changed.  <HOME>

All photos courtesy of Melissa Ash


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