California Man Rescues Over 1,000 Farm Animals From Wildfires

August 28, 2020 Updated: August 28, 2020

As three major wildfires are creating havoc in Monterey County, California, a resident stepped up to rescue over 1,000 farm animals whose owners had to evacuate their homes.

Getting a team of horse owners together with their trailers, quarter horse breeder Blake Cadigan has been able to evacuate all kinds of livestock out of harm’s way amid the River and Carmel Fire rage.

“We’re just trying to get [animals] to safety,” Cadigan told KSEE 24. “Get them some food get them some water try to get them to relax a little bit.”

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The LNU Lightning Complex Fire burns near horses as they stand in their enclosure on Aug. 18, 2020, in Napa, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cadigan, the owner of Evolution Quarter Horses in Sanger, said that it hasn’t been easy to gain the trust of these distressed animals in order to make their relocation to a safe place possible, according to a report by KSFN, an ABC-owned TV station.

He said “the worst part” of the rescue is that a lot of these animals have never left the place where they’re being kept at. “[T] they don’t get transported regularly like a horse,” he said.

Rescuing different animals to fill their version of Noah’s Ark has been no easy feat for his team. Part of what motivated Cadigan and his volunteers are the strong links between owners across the state.

“You’ve got to go out here and help these people,” Cadigan said. “Help your friends and families.”

Volunteer Danielle Caldeira, who accompanied Cadigan on his rescue missions, told the outlet: “We have to go rescue five emus, three llamas, one alpaca, six goats, two pigs, two mini donkeys, two mini horses, and five peacocks… and that’s just one place.”

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Horses graze as flames from the Apple fire skirt a ridge in a residential area of Banning, Calif., on Aug. 1, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Caldeira noted that if they fail to transport these distraught farm animals, the prospects amid the life-threatening fires are grim. The other issue that Cadigan and the team have dealt with is the lack of space to temporarily house all the rescues.

With over 1,000 animals of various kinds, shapes, and sizes rescued, the horse breeder told KSEE that they are “running out of room.”

Thankfully, Cadigan and his volunteers got some good news; on Aug. 24, Evolution Quarter Horses announced on Facebook: “Evacs have been lifted in certain areas around Monterey County. We will start to coordinate with livestock owners to return animals to their homes.”

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A rooster walks by a burned vehicle during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to the challenges and costs of saving farm animals threatened by the fire, Cadigan has called on the community for support, and the recently created GoFundMe has helped keep the operation going.

“What we need right now is we need medical supplies for livestock, we need hay, water buckets that’s a huge one, we really need to get these guys water, and shelter,” Cadigan said.

On Aug. 26, the team thanked people for their generous donations on their social media page.

“We have been overwhelmed by generosity by our equine community. At this time we are no longer in need of donations, however we did put together a list of people who are still in need of supplies and monetary donations,” they wrote.

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A horse looks back toward a burned structure at the Yin Ranch Event And Conference Place during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite all the challenges, Cadigan and his fellow transporters find the exhaustive effort of saving these lives is “worth it.”

“That’s the best part of it, when we see their owners that are so thankful that,” he told KSEE. “I know it kind of sounds corny, but it kinda of [sic] melts your heart a little bit and that’s what makes it all worth it.”