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Volunteers Needed for Animal Rescue Team

REARS Members Assist Officers During Disasters

TUESDAY, JAN. 31, 2023 – Animal Services is seeking new volunteers to be part of a unique team that assists officers during disaster situations.

Members of REARS – the Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue System – provide a valuable service to our team, Commander Josh Sisler said.

“For 19 years, these dedicated volunteers have been an amazing resource for us – and county residents – during crisis events,” Sisler said. “We are very fortunate to work with so many generous people.”

The nonprofit group is a network of volunteers trained by Riverside County Animal Services to assist the department in large-scale emergencies, such as wildfires. The volunteers are dispatched through Animal Services’ command structure. During wildfire incidents, Animal Services follows directions from the incident command post, usually led by CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department in concert with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Each year the department seeks new volunteers for an orientation meeting and various training exercises. The next orientation meeting is Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter at 6851 Van Buren Blvd., Jurupa Valley. Check in time is 8:30 a.m. and the meeting runs 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. The meeting is mandatory for anyone who would like to become a member of the special unit of volunteers.


Oftentimes, during a disaster, many people want to assist Riverside County Animal Services with rescue efforts. But the department only calls upon volunteers who have gone through the REARS orientation and certification process.

Volunteer members are generally horse enthusiasts because they’re helping with evacuations of larger animals, livestock and have the vehicles and trailers that become critical in big events. It is not mandatory that volunteers have horses or experience with horses, but it is a valued skill.

REARS members have also assisted Riverside County with cruelty cases involving abused or neglected horses.

Roughly 60 county residents are members and some of the volunteers include current or retired animal control officers. Twelve Riverside County cities are represented on the active roster.

“Our REARS volunteers are always ready to help when emergency situations occur,” Director Erin Gettis said. “We are grateful for the hours they’ve donated and incurring personal costs when responding with their rigs and trailers.”

2022 REARS Training Exercise:

2019 REARS Training Exercise: