How Veterinarians, Students, and Volunteers Saved Horses During a Deadly Wildfire

Last fall, Hayley Dieckmann and the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team treated horses and other animals displaced by the Camp Fire. Here’s a look at what she experienced.
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Dr. Emily Berryhill evalautes a Miniature Horse at a large animal shelter during the Camp Fire, in Butte County, California. | Hsin-Hung Lin/Courtesy Hayley Dieckmann

Late last year, Northern California experienced the largest and deadliest wildfire in recent history. Butte County was on fire for 17 days. The Camp Fire killed at least 85 people and changed the lives of thousands more.

Countless more animals—including horses—were injured, traumatized, displaced, or killed by the fire. Those that survived needed care, even if their owners had evacuated the area. That’s where we came in.

During the Fire

Rescue workers, owners, and good Samaritans brought horses and livestock to the Butte County Fairgrounds for shelter and veterinary care. During the peak of the fire, the Butte County large animal shelter housed more than 700 evacuated animals, from horses to chickens to every livestock animal between

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Hayley Dieckmann is a third-year veterinary student at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated from Colorado College in 2013 with a BA in biology with a concentration in organisms, ecology, and evolution. Before beginning vet school, she worked as a wildlife researcher, English language teacher in South Korea, and veterinary assistant in both an equine and zoo practices. At UC Davis, Dieckmann is the president of two student clubs and works part time as the coordinator of the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team medical reserve corps. Her veterinary career focus is on zoo medicine or mixed large animal practice. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, riding horses, and traveling.

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