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RESCUERS ROUND UP FRIGHTENED PETS.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

They had worked all night to save frightened animals from the flames: stallions, llamas, goats, pigs, chickens, parakeets, even a giant tortoise.

By Thursday, rescuers had safely gathered more than 300 horses and other pets at animal evacuation centers at Pierce College, Hansen Dam and the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

``It's great,'' said Tim Hill, 38, who had rushed his quarter horse and paint to the Pierce College campus in Woodland Hills as clouds of smoke blew over his Porter Ranch home.

``I know these people, I trust 'em ... Frankly, I don't think (the horses) will want to leave.''

By morning, the Pierce College farm had hosted 210 horses - twice as many equine refugees as during the wildfires of 2003. A hundred more were taken to Hansen Dan Equestrian Center.

Assisted by Los Angeles Animal Services officers, veterinarians treated each animal for shock. Volunteers soothed nervous dogs and cats.

``The animals are doing very good,'' said Bill Lander, manager of the equestrian center at Pierce College. ``They're settling down. When they came in, they were very stressed.''

Behind him, quizzical llamas and fuzzy alpacas craned their necks through a long line of stalls. Nearby, horses whinnied from strange corrals.

``This is like Old McDonald's Farm,'' said Pierce College interim President Tom Oliver, host of the Noah's ark-like retreat, from inside one musty stall. ``A pig, a goat ... and the biggest tortoise I've ever seen.''

By afternoon, horses were being shuttled to quarters at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

As the Topanga Fire neared homes, Animal Services officers whisked at least two dozen dogs and cats out of harm's way. The department's Emergency Equine Rescue Team, assisted by the LAPD's mounted patrols, helped move horses ahead of the conflagration.

``We're working really hard to get the animals out,'' said Capt. Karen Knipsheer, spokeswoman for the Department of Animal Services, lead agency in the animal rescue. ``We probably pulled out two dozen dogs and cats.''

Meanwhile, federal wildlife trackers monitored one bobcat and its kitten, tagged with an electronic device, to ensure they were safe.

``The concern is that they're kind of cornered here between the fire and the urban area,'' said Joanne Moriarty, a wildlife technician with the National Park Service.

In Ventura County, animal regulators evacuated an undetermined number of horses and livestock to the fairgrounds, with house pets sent to local shelters.

Some residents, however, searched vainly for their pets.

Dennise Joseph spent hours going from shelter to shelter searching for her four cats - Dylan, Shelby, Princess and Lucky. Neighbors had managed to save her two dogs - B.J. and Tommy - but had no time to find her skittish cats.

``I am really worried about them'' said Joseph, wearing shorts from the day before and a borrowed shirt outside Canoga Park High School, where she once again was trying her luck.

``They are indoor cats and there is no hiding place for them.''

Staff Writers Rachel Uranga and Josh Kleinbaum contributed to this report.

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) Animal Services Officer Daniel Pantoja checks the evacuated horses at Pierce College.

(2) Pierce College's interim president, Tom Oliver, pays a visit to a pig and a giant tortoise.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 30, 2005
Words:548
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