Spur of the moment

Bird flies during smoky sunset at Pierce College’s Large Animal Evacuation Center in Woodland Hills, Calif. on Oct. 11, 2019. Photo by Cecilia Parada.

Reported by Jackson Hayano and Bryan Carballo

While the Pierce campus was closed due to poor air quality, the Equestrian Center opened its doors to more than 100 horses and large animals who were evacuated due to the Saddle Ridge Fire. 

The Equestrian Center opened at 6 a.m. on Friday. Ranches, barns and stables in close proximity to the Saddle Ridge Fire had their animals transported to Equestrian Center for safety.

For horse owner Miguel Deniz, this is the second year in a row that he has evacuated his horses to Pierce.

“[Pierce] has always been a central point where you can bring all your animals in case of an emergency,” Deniz said. “They can offer the resources to people when they’re in need.” 

Emergency Response Team (ERT) volunteers assisted in the transportation of the evacuated horses to Pierce. Once the horses were at the Equestrian Center, ERT volunteers set them up in stables and provided them with food and water. 

Los Angeles County Animal Control Employee Justin Vaughn said that there were some problems when the Equestrian Center opened its doors. 

 “We weren’t able to really put the numbers on the horses and get them ready,” Vaughn said. “So when we got here, there was a little bit of chaos trying to figure out whose who and where people came from. We’re still doing some intake.”

Vaughn said that evacuated animals arrived from all over the San Fernando Valley, and that the Equestrian Center remains open until it reaches full capacity.

“We’re going to do as much as we can until we run out of room or space,” Vaughn said. “We’re going to try to utilize everything we can.”

Tyler Burzynski, a horse owner, said that Hansen Dam, an equestrian center in Lake View Terrace, was the first t