San Bruno disaster affects pets

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(Milan Subedi)

The massive gas explosion and fire in San Bruno took its toll on the neighborhoods surrounding the blast. Unfortunate victims of the explosion were not only humans, but stray animals and pets of owners fleeing the inferno as well.

The Peninsula Humane Society, (PHS), is leading the effort in rescuing and reuniting these animals with their owners. With the rise of animal intakes coming primarily from the devastated San Bruno area, the PHS is doing its part. Scott Delucchi, PHS Senior Vice President of Community Relations, explained to me in great detail the operations that are underway.

The PHS is taking in animals as usual, but sending out truck transports to locate owner’s animals displaced by the fire. Six to seven animal control officers are working hard trying to find lost pets. “As soon as our officers have enough animals in their van, they get the van back to the shelter,” Mr. Delucchi said. “They are communicating with our staff members who are at the Veteran’s Center in San Bruno,” he added. PHS staff at the Veteran’s Memorial Recreation Center assists owners who try to locate a lost pet. Since yesterday, the PHS has rescued one stray German shepherd, and 15 pets owned by victims of the fire. Mr. Delucchi expects more to come.

Out of this crisis, he informs me, there has been a rise in foster parents willing to take in lost animals. While leading the effort, the PHS still needs help. Mr. Delucchi confirms that other Bay Area animal shelters are helping out, and unopened food donations are more than welcome. When asked about what potential volunteers could do to help, he explained “If they see a stray animal, bring it to the nearest animal shelter.”

Already, happy endings are emerging from the recent tragedy. A black Lab pup was found at the 2000 block of Concord, and reunited with its owner. Another owner, Janine Oberg, was reunited with her cat, three-year old Jackson.  In a statement she replied: “I feel very appreciative of the Humane Society. When we left our home, we could not bring our cat with us. We found out that San Bruno Park, at the rescue center, we found a table for the Humane Society. We are just so happy. They went in, and they rescued our animals.”

Volunteers at the PHS are playing a major role in the rescue effort. A cooperative endeavor among the staff and volunteers has produced great results. Speaking with a volunteer, Anne Marie Azevedo, she stated that the PHS is doing “a wonderful job.” She also commented about a happy story in which five people were reunited with their three lost dogs thanks to the work of the Humane Society. “There were five people in the lobby, and they were reunited with their three missing dogs. It was a happy scene, and very touching,” she said.

The auditorium at the PHS is also ready to accommodate for the overflow of displaced animals.

Overall, the Peninsula Humane Society is doing as much as it can to aid pets impacted by the explosion. The rescue effort of displaced animals will continue for thirty days, in which the PHS will hold unclaimed owned animals.