More Than 70 Horses Displaced By The Woolsey Fire Are Still Homeless

There are still more than 70 evacuated horses at the Ventura County Fairgrounds after the Woolsey Fire. (Caleigh Wells/KPCC)

A fire as destructive as the Woolsey Fire meant thousands of animals were separated from their owners.

Most of them have since been reunited, but two weeks later, Ventura County Animal Services still has about 90 animals, and more than 70 of them are horses.

"It had to do with where the fire was," said Marketing Manager Randy Friedman. "Because it was in Agoura and Malibu with a lot of ranches...most of the animals evacuated were livestock."

Many were taken to the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which was at one point a temporary home for more than 300 horses.

The remaining horses have stables that either burned down or are still without water.

At this point, life for the horses has become routine, and they're pretty relaxed. But two weeks ago it was another story entirely.

"These are the horses that we saw running down the roads in Malibu," said Friedman. "We have seen some horses come in with singed fur and some of their eyelashes were curled...which means they were in close proximity to the fire."

The good news is that the owners of all the remaining horses have been identified. The bad news is that, with so much devastation, many people don't have anywhere to take their horses.

That's where Audra Probasco comes in. She's a volunteer who's been at the fairgrounds since day one, cleaning out stalls and grooming the horses whose owners aren't able to come do it themselves.

"At first it was a little chaotic, of course, and everyone's been really great. Even the people who have lost their homes and houses have been really positive about it and appreciative of all the help," she said.

Audra Probasco fixes the forelock on Geronimo, one of the therapy horses she's in charge of keeping clean and fed. (Caleigh Wells/LAist)

Last year Probasco's sister lost her home in the Thomas fire. The support she received then inspired her to give back this time around.

"I don't have a lot of money, so it's my way of paying it back, is helping out with the horses," she said, adding that she'll stay until the fairground stables are empty again.

Friedman said VCAS is making the same promise.

"We're really not pushing people hard to come back. If they really need our services, we will provide," he said. "These people lost so much, and if what we can do to help is just to care for their animals until they can find a place, that's totally fine."


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