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About R.E.A.R.S



    REARS is the system that has been developed to perform animal rescue, evacuation, sheltering, care and welfare of domestic and livestock animals within Riverside County during times of disaster or extraordinary emergencies.


    The REARS backbone for carrying out the operational tasks of rescuing, evacuating, sheltering and caring for animals during emergencies is local government animal welfare staff  and volunteers trained in animal rescue and emergency animal care. This cadre of trained individuals is supervised on incidents by Riverside County Department of Animal Services management staff.


    REARS can be deployed anywhere within the County of Riverside for emergency activities. Local government can also request REARS through the normal call out procedure.  REARS may also be deployed outside of Riverside County through a mutual aid request to the Riverside County Department of Animals Services made by the local government.


    REARS is activated through SMS messaging (text message), email, or telephone call out procedure. Riverside County Animal Services will always be the lead for REARS, though may be assisted on scene by another coordinating council agency such as Riverside County Sheriff, Cal-Fire Riverside County, Riverside County Emergency Management Department or CHP.

    Riverside County Animal Services Supervision (Animal Rescue Coordinator) will be collocated at the Incident Command Post while another representative establishes an Animal Staging Area (Animal Staging Manager) nearby.  This staging area will be in close proximity to the ICP, though not close enough to interfere with ICP or operational activities. The nature of the size and quantity of animal rescue equipment and vehicles necessitates an Animal Staging Area, separate from the Incident Staging Area. This will be the area that equipment is checked in, configured in teams and then deployed to perform animal rescue activities.

    Rescued animals are brought to Animal Staging for inventory, tagging, and emergency first aid and then transported to board facilities by transport teams.


    Riverside County Department of Animal Services is the tasked agency within the County for the rescue, care and welfare of animals. During times of disasters, they have called upon the services of other local government animal services agencies to assist. It was quickly realized that extraordinary emergencies can overwhelm the available on duty animal rescue agencies and extended response times will affect the overall success of rescue operations. Additionally, there was often an overwhelming response of good intentioned local citizens desiring to assist. This has helped in the past, though often hindered emergency operations and needlessly placed citizen rescuers and first responders in harm’s way.

    The Mountain Fire of October 2003 was the catalyst to developing a coordinated and collaborative effort for the emergency rescue, care and welfare of animals during times of emergencies and disasters.

    New Member Academy- February 24, 2024

    R.E.A.R.S Academy

    February 24, 2024 

    Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter

    6851 Van Buren Blvd., Jurupa Valley, CA 92509

    Check in: 8:30 a.m.

    Academy runs from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

    Interested in applying?

    1) Download the application below

    2) Fill out the application and bring it with you to check-in.

    Download R.E.A.R.S. volunteer application


    Email us at [email protected]

    Current R.E.A.R.S members

    Please note that R.E.A.R.S re-certification days are TBA.
    Location TBD


    Flyer for REARS disaster relief volunteer team new member academy to be held on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

    Become a R.E.A.R.S Member


    To become a member of REARS, interested parties must first complete a REARS Volunteer Application.

    Download R.E.A.R.S. Volunteer Application

    Bring your completed application to check-in at the REARS New Member Academy.

    Applicants must:

    • Be 18 years of age at the time of the Basic Class.
    • Must posses a valid California Drivers License, if expecting to operate a motor vehicle, or a valid California Identification Card
    • Must disclose any criminal convictions on their R.E.A.R.S. Volunteer Application.
      *A criminal conviction does not necessarily disqualify an applicant. However, failure to disclose such conviction will be grounds for disqualification.
    • Must have a contact phone number.
    • Must attend all required training. Members are expected to complete the New Member Academy, including Incident Command System Training, Animal Rescue Techniques, Emergency Scene Vehicle Operations, Wildland Fire Behavior, Water & Flood Operations, Trailering Techniques, and Trailer Safety Inspections. All members must attend (2) required trainings per year. Members will be given advanced notice of (2) or more dates to complete each required training. Additional recommended trainings may be held during the year that will not require participation.
    • Effective immediately, those who do not complete the required trainings for the year, will be placed on the inactive list and not allowed to participate until they complete the next cycle of required training sessions. After completion of the required training, inactive members will be put back on the active list and allowed to participate in evacuations.

    To date, hundreds of volunteers have completed the new member academy!



    During the summer of 2003 Southern California fell siege to wildland fires. The Mountain Fire in southwest Riverside County was the defining incident which brought to the forefront the need for a formal and organized animal rescue program in Riverside County. There were many lessons learned - it was realized that government agencies don't have enough staff to handle a massive animal evacuation; the services of many volunteers were not able to be utilized because they had no formal training and there was no organizational structure; and animal rescue groups must be part of the emergency plan so they don't impede fire engines and emergency vehicles in the course of their work.

    Following the aftermath of the Mountain Fire, an ad-hoc committee was formed with representatives from Riverside Counties Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Department of Animal Services, Riverside County Fire Department (OES) and the California Highway Patrol.

    The committee realized the need for an initial training program and continuing training in order to provide for the safety of the volunteers. Initially a basic class was developed consisting of an overview on the areas of Incident Command System, Law Enforcement Issues, Animal Evacuation Procedures, Fire Line Safety and Animal Handling. After completing the Basic Class, volunteers were issued an R.E.A.R.S. identification card. Later in the year continuing training included Flood Training, Trailer Inspection and Manoeuvring. To date 279 volunteers have completed the Basic Class!

    The original ad-hoc committee has evolved into the R.E.A.R.S. Council that oversees all aspects of the organization. 



    Riverside County Department of Animal Services:

    • Lieutenant James Huffman - REARS Coordinator (951) 358-7387
    • Commander Joshua Sisler – Manages Field Services County Wide (951) 358-7387