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Toxic Fumes May Be Fatal to Some Pets Left Behind

Times Staff Writer

Some pets left behind in evacuated areas may not survive the toxic fumes they have been breathing, Orange County Animal Control officials said Tuesday.

“We expect to find some dead animals,” said Animal Control Director Len Liberio, adding that “smaller animals are more easily overcome” by fumes than larger ones.

“We’ve had some reports of dead birds” believed to have been killed by toxic fumes, he said. Animal Control officers plan to remove any dead animals found after the evacuation is ended.

‘Still Too Dangerous’

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Liberio said his office would not enter the evacuated areas until the level of chemical fumes present had dropped to safe levels. “The toxicologist has said the area is still too dangerous for humans,” he said Tuesday. “Our staff is not trained in those protective suits.”

However, there were isolated reports of police officers escorting residents into evacuated areas to retrieve or feed pets.

Officials reported that 17 pets had been collected from people at the three evacuation centers. Those animals are now being cared for at the agency’s Orange office. Liberio guessed that most pets had either been taken to the houses of friends or relatives, or had been left behind.

A spokeswoman for the Anaheim Police Department said evacuating residents were told either to lock pets indoors or bring them along. A Placentia police officer was telling residents during Monday’s evacuation to take their pets along.

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Allowed on Buses

Normally, pets are not allowed on Orange County Transit District buses, but an exception was made during Placentia’s evacuation, when residents were allowed to bring them on board for the ride to Red Cross evacuation centers.

Once at the centers, those with pets were asked to turn them over to Animal Control officials, said Placentia Police Capt. Jim Robertson.

Animal Control workers are feeding and housing pets at all three evacuation centers, said Andy Cheng, a Red Cross volunteer. “If anyone brings their pets, it’s no problem,” he said.

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Placentia police were not allowing anyone into the evacuated area, but Anaheim Police Sgt. Jack Jansen said Anaheim police were escorting some residents to their homes to get clothes or feed pets. People who had just returned from the beach “without a stitch of clothing” or who said their pet hadn’t eaten in three days were escorted by an officer to their homesfor a few minutes, he said.

No Plans for Rescues

But neither Anaheim nor Placentia police were planning large-scale rescues of animals left behind. “At this point, we’re not making any of those plans,” Robertson said. But some action may be taken “if it goes on into tomorrow (Wednesday),” he added.


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