L.A. earthquake aid

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

The City of Los Angeles was among
the first animal control jurisdictions
to have its own disaster prepared-
ness manual, but not even manual
author Lt. Frederic Michael antici-
pated two major natural disasters
hitting the area within four months:
first the devastating brushfires of
late October and early November,
and then, January 17, a 6.6-
Richter-magnitude earthquake that
collapsed overpasses, ruptured
water mains, killed 43 people out-
right, and left more than 20,000 at
least temporarily homeless.

The quake “sent pets into a
frenzy of terror and freed them to
chaotic streets,” Jim Loney of
Reuters reported. “In the first tumul-
tuous hours, dozens of animals were
killed by cars as they wandered
through darkened streets. Animal
shelters and hospitals nursed many
pets wounded by flying bricks,
books, and glass. Owners sought
treatment for dogs who had gashed
their paws on broken glass in the
streets. Animal shelters in the quake
zone were inundated with found pets
and calls from anxious owners.”
United Animal Nations
disaster relief services director Terri
Crisp was already in San Diego giv-
ing a workshop on disaster prepared-
ness, and drove to Los Angeles at
the head of a convoy of 25 trained
volunteers from the Ramona Animal
Rescue Group, in 14 vehicles,
mostly belonging to members of the
Early Bronco 4-Wheel Drive Club of
San Diego. Another 45 volunteers
met them en route. begging radio
stations to broadcast tips on finding
lost cats in the disaster area and
lending a hand at the City of Los
Angeles shelter in Northridge––not
far from where 17 people died in the
collapse of a n apartment house.
“The situation at the shel-
ter is critical,” she faxed to her sup-
port staffer, Vernon Weir. “Scores
of animals are injured and many oth-
ers, primarily dogs, are dead.
Citizens are delivering more injured
and dying animals every hour. The
shelter is without power and is in
desperate need of generators, gaso-
line to run the generators, emer-
gency lighting, 50-gallon drums for
water storage, and if possible, a
water tanker.”
But help soon arrived.
Three city water tankers enabled
Crisp and shelter volunteers led by
Lt. Dick Felosky to water 681 horses
per day for 10 days, along with 300
to 400 ostriches, 400 emus, 60
sheep, and even some tame deer on
ranches in the nearby foothills..
Amid rumors that shelters
were euthanizing as “abandoned” all
animals left by homeless quake vic-
tims for temporary safekeeping, the
Los Angeles city shelters actually
extended their holding period for
strays, while the American Humane
Association set up a foster care pro-
“Pet owners, especially
the elderly, are refusing to relocate
to sheltes, hotels, and tent cities
because none of these places accept
pets,” observed AHA emergency
animal relief coordinator Curt
Ransom. “Pet owners are living in
their cars, camping outside their
homes, and remaining in unsafe
structures all to keep a daily eye on
their pets.”
Wildlife rescuers were also
kept busy, as a 13-mile stretch of the
Santa Clara River was flooded with
214,000 gallons of oil from a rup-
tured ARCO pipeline, killing hun-
dreds of birds, reptiles, and small
Both Crisp and editor
Ginger Julian of the Lakeside-based
Animal Press had high praise for
new Los Angeles general manager of
animal regular Gary Olsen, who had
served the department in other
capacities since 1978. Olsen spread
the good words around, noting
donations of leashes and portable cat
carriers by the Humane Society of
the U.S., and, he added, “The
North Shore Animal League has
donated beautiful plastic cat carriers.
I cannot emphasize enough about
their help. They’re also going to pay
for our ads in the local papers to
reunite owners with lost animals or
find homes for unclaimed animals.”
By January 20, most
human survivors were beginning to
laugh again and swap stories––many
of them about pets in the quake.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author
of The Hidden Life of Dogs, put out
an appeal for accounts of pets sens-
ing the quake onthe America OnLine
computer network, and received at
least 62 replies within the next sev-
eral hours..
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