horse being led out of fire zone

2020 North Complex Fire: Latest Response Activities

Last updated: 9/18/2020, 8:06 a.m. PST

How we are addressing emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic:

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine is preparing to care for animals injured by the North Complex Fire burning east and northeast of Oroville in Butte, Plumas, and Yuba Counties. This situation is different than previous years of assisting with wildfires because of the issues caused by the pandemic, which has impacted the capacity of our hospital as well as other veterinary facilities in Northern California.

To respond to the fire in a way that best utilizes our resources and to assist the greatest number of injured animals, our veterinary hospital clinicians and staff will prioritize our response to emphasize ambulatory (in the field) and telehealth consultation to maximize our service within our treatment area. Animals judged to need more intensive care or surgical intervention will take priority as hospitalized patients.

In addition, we will be treating and discharging animals from the hospital as quickly as safely possible in order to treat the greatest number of animals that we can. This involves returning animals to owners or evacuation centers when possible, and utilizing a network of foster homes for others. In previous fire responses, we had more capacity to keep some animals for longer-term non-critical care.

We are committed to treating as many animals as we can that are affected by the fires, and we greatly appreciate the community’s support during this extremely stressful and difficult time. Please also stay tuned to this page and our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.


Total Animals Treated to Date at VMTH: 13 (+1 - *see 9/14 update)
Total Animals Treated to Date in Field: 686+

September 16, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) deployed a team of five (four veterinarians and one student) to the North Complex Fire today. On search and rescue missions with Butte County Animal Control Officers, VERT rescued, evaluated, triaged, and/or treated 30 animals (18 pheasants, seven dogs, and five chickens). The team also visited more than a dozen properties that had numerous cats, dogs, chickens, horses, and various livestock sheltering in place. They left pet food, chicken feed, hay bales, and water. One pheasant was transferred to the UC Davis veterinary hospital for further treatment.

September 15, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) deployed again today to the North Complex Fire near Oroville. VERT sent teams totaling six people (three veterinarians and three students). Together, they rescued, evaluated, triaged, and/or treated 77 animals (38 chickens, 16 dogs, seven pigs, five sheep, four horses, three cattle, two turkeys, one goat, and one cat).

September 14, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) deployed again this morning to the North Complex Fire near Oroville. VERT sent teams totaling 11 people (six veterinarians, one veterinary technician, and four students). Together, they rescued, evaluated, triaged, and/or treated 315 animals (124 dogs, 111 cats, 29 birds, 26 rabbits, 11 pigs, seven chickens, four ducks, two goats, and one sheep). Also, the Aquatic Animal Health Unit helped VERT coordinate the transport of koi fish found yesterday to a koi rescue in Paradise. The UC Davis veterinary hospital received seven animals from the fire (three goats, two chickens, and two ducks). The hospital also received one tortoise* that was injured in an unrelated fire in Calaveras County that was contained a few weeks ago.

September 13, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) deployed again today to the North Complex Fire near Oroville. A team of six (four veterinarians and two DVM students) left campus early this morning to assist with search and rescue missions and care for animals in the fire zone. They rescued, evaluated, triaged, and/or treated 154 animals (108 chickens, 14 koi fish, 11 pigs, eight cats, four horses, four goats, two dogs, two pigeons, and one duck). VERT is consulting with the hospital's Aquatic Animal Health Unit to make arrangements to rescue the koi.

September 12, 2020

Last night, the Yolo County OES received a formal request for deployment of the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) to assist Animal Control Officers with triage of animals in Butte County during their search and rescue operations in the North Complex Fire zone. VERT assembled three teams totaling 13 people (two equine veterinarians, two livestock veterinarians, one avian/exotic veterinarian, one veterinary technician, and seven DVM students) and departed campus today. Together, the teams rescued, evaluated, triaged, and/or treated 110 animals (66 chickens, 11 pigs, 10 turkeys, six ducks, five cats, four goats, three dogs, two horses, two peafowl, and one canary). The UC Davis veterinary hospital received 4 animals (two horses and two goats) from the fire. All were promptly treated by the Large Animal Clinic.

September 11, 2020

The UC Davis veterinary hospital received a llama from the North Complex Fire. It is being treated for second- and third-degree burns.

September 10, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) remains on standby, awaiting official orders from county OES to deploy to the North Complex Fire to assist with treatment of animals at evacuation centers, and to conduct search and rescue missions in the fire zones.

September 9, 2020

The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) was given notice by community animal response groups that assistance treating animals evacuated from the North Complex Fire (previously called the Bear Fire) may be needed at animal evacuation centers. As with every fire response, we indicated to the community groups that an official request for VERT services needs to go through county OES before we can safely deploy teams to the fire zones. These proper protocols of response have to be followed with every VERT deployment. In the meantime, VERT assembled teams and stocked vehicles with supplies for a possible midday deployment. Over the course of the day, VERT received several other calls from the community groups reporting the need for assistance at the evacuation center. By 6 p.m., Yolo County OES informed VERT that the request by the Animal Control Office of Butte County had not been placed, suggesting that the veterinary needs were being met locally (by private veterinary services from surrounding counties). VERT remains ready to deploy once a formal request is placed.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has taken the following steps in response to current fires:

  • The UC Davis veterinary hospital engaged its Disaster Response Leadership Team and has initiated action to put the hospital on standby. Preparations to accept and treat animal fire victims are in progress. As the community's leading tertiary veterinary care center, the UC Davis veterinary hospital will provide as much resource to our community's veterinarians and animals as possible. While the hospital is prepared to accept patients, the majority of animal care will be focused on treatments in the field, as COVID-related protocols and hospital emergency services already at capacity may impact the number of patients accepted.
  • The Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) is on standby to deploy once an official state/county request is initiated. VERT will respect the first-responders incident command and wait for the official request for deployment to ensure the safety of all involved.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has multiple online resources for animal owners to prepare for and deal with natural disasters: