Wendy Vogelsang Santa Cruz County Emergency Animal ShelterFire Local News Photography 

Safely to Shelter

Volunteering at the Emergency Animal Shelter during the CZU Fire

By Wendy Volgelgesang

I don’t recall when I’ve felt more helpless than during the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Learning about friend’s homes burning to the ground, and the overall magnitude of displacement and loss in the community sent me into a state of anxiety, sadness, and helplessness that I couldn’t shake. 

On August 27th, while scrolling through stories and updates about the fire on my Facebook feed, I came across a post about the Santa Cruz Equine Evacuation Unit, a group of people going into the fire zones rescuing livestock from properties and transporting them to the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. An opportunity to help called out to me. 

I contacted the organizer and was put on the schedule to volunteer on Saturday, the 29th, at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds Emergency Animal Shelter. I was excited and nervous.

Purposeful Work at Santa Cruz Emergency Animal Shelter

I volunteered at an emergency animal shelter once in my life. It was 15 years ago when, together with a friend, we went to New Orleans to join in the animal rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina. That was a long time ago, but I hoped that experience could be helpful in this situation. I spent five days at the fairgrounds washing and sanitizing buckets used for livestock and cleaning horse stalls and goat pens. And with every bucket I washed, each horse stall and goat pen I cleaned, the anxiety and helplessness I felt were replaced with a calm feeling of purpose. 

Thank you, Santa Cruz Equine Evac, Santa Cruz Animals Services, and Santa Cruz Fairgrounds! 




Photos by Wendy Vogelsang

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