A UC Davis fire crew and a veterinary team spent the long weekend hard at work at the Camp Fire, while back on campus, other firefighters ran a relief effort for the fire victims, and veterinary staff tended to animals brought in from the fire zone.
The School of Veterinary Medicine reported taking in cats, pigs, goats, a donkey and koi — the second time in just over a year the campus has taken in koi from fire zones.
The Fire Department sent an engine and four firefighters to the wildfire last Thursday (Nov. 8). The relief effort materialized that night in a firehouse dinner conversation, according to firefighter Paul Rush, one of the lead organizers. “In addition to the Type 1 fire engine we have assigned to the Camp Fire, we felt the need to do more for the victims of this devastating event.”
Rush and firefighters Corrie Beall and Kyle Dubs launched the drive the next day, Nov. 9, asking for new and gently used goods. The collection — now limited to new items only — continues until 7 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 14) at the firehouse on Kleiber Hall Drive off Hutchison Drive. The Fire Department has set up a website with all the details, including a list of current needs.
No sooner had the collection begun, when the campus cleared out for the three-day Veterans Day holiday weekend. But the contributions came anyway, as people learned about the drive through social media.
“The response from the UC Davis, Davis and Bay Area communities has been humbling and heartwarming,” said Rush, speaking on behalf of himself and the other co-organizers.
“We’ve received phone calls from people from across the country as far away as New York asking what we need. One of our very own UC Davis alumni has created an Amazon account where she is purchasing items on behalf of her friends, and having them delivered to the station.”
Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht delivered the first load of goods on Sunday (Nov. 11) — a trailer and a pickup full of boxes stuffed with supplies — with help from his daughter Lily and a student firefighter, Martin Vega-Martinez. The chief made a second run Monday (Nov. 12).
Since then, the Fire Department has secured two 16-foot box trucks from Fleet Services. “At this time we have received, sorted and packed almost 200 boxes worth of donations — in two days,” Rush said.
Some of the most needed new items are personal hygiene items (men’s and women’s), undergarments, bedding, toys and children’s books, and single-serving, nonperishable foods.
“The UC Davis Fire Department is eternally grateful and humbled by the generosity of our community and the overwhelming support of campus leadership,” the organizers said. “We are committed to doing everything we can for those who have lost everything.”
The Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center had planned a collection this week of gently used professional clothing to give to students in need, but has called it off and instead will serve as a drop-off point for the Fire Department collection for the Camp Fire, until 5 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 14). Aggie Compass is on the first floor of the Memorial Union’s East Wing).
Officials called in UC Davis’ Veterinary Emergency Response Team on Saturday (Nov. 10). Three veterinarians — VERT Director John Madigan, Emily Berryhill and Lais Costa, and five veterinary students — quickly reported to the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley and went to work helping dogs, horses, pigs and goats, among other animals.
VERT has been at the fairgrounds every day since with a rotating group of veterinarians and students.
Saturday evening, the team returned to campus with a pair of piglets; one succumbed to burns, while the other “is doing OK, up and active,” said Trina Wood, communications officer for the School of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Sunday at the fairgrounds saw the arrival of goats, a horse and donkey found together. The donkey collapsed, so it was loaded into a trailer and hauled to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. “He didn’t appear to have any burns or major injuries,” Wood said, “but advanced age and arthritis may have played a part in his collapse.
“The team waiting at the hospital helped stabilize him in a sling until he was standing on his own and Dr. Monica Aleman had a chance to examine him.”
Aleman dubbed him “Pancho,” and “he was settling in his new digs for the night and enjoying a snack and fresh water,” Wood reported.
Monday night, nearly two dozen cats arrived at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital's Small Animal Clinic for treatment of burns — primarily to paws but also to other parts of the cats’ bodies, including face and ears. Today the communications team launched a Facebook album of the unclaimed cats — an outreach effort meant to reach the owners.
VERT’s fish-saving mission began Sunday night when Madigan, distinguished professor of veterinary medicine, received a call from someone seeking advice on saving koi and fancy goldfish.
“He gave them step-by-step instructions and didn’t hear anything more until this morning (Monday) when they called back — they had all the fish in a holding tank in a truck and were on their way to Davis,” Wood said.
Madigan coordinated with Linda Deanovic, director of the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, and she mobilized staff to come prepare two holding tanks. Wood said the fish belong to Paradise Town Councilman Scott Lotter and his wife, Tracy.
This year’s rescue brought two koi and approximately two dozen goldfish to UC Davis. Madigan and four students helped unload the fish into their new home, then returned to the Butte County Fairgrounds for another day of work.
How you can help
The School of Veterinary Medicine welcomes donations to a pair of funds:
- Veterinary Catastrophic Need Fund for treatment of animals like those coming in from the Camp Fire
- Veterinary Emergency Response Team
Lastly, “The team in C Barn and LAC (Large Animal Clinic) in general are an amazing group,” Wood said. “I've seen most of the same faces throughout the weekend and I wonder if/when they've gotten any sleep. If you enjoy baking or the such, I'm sure they could use some treats/pizza/snacks.”