A pet 75-pound tortoise has been reunited with his owners who were forced to leave him behind, after sheriff's deputies found the animal trying to escape the wildfire that had prompted an evacuation order in Los Angeles County.
That evacuation order was among those lifted on Monday, giving relief to many of the 20,000 people who had been forced to flee the Sand Fire north of Los Angeles. But the situation is far from resolved: other areas remain under evacuation orders, and state officials have declared an emergency in Los Angeles County.
The weekend evacuation also covered Tank the tortoise — whose nickname, Pebbles, comes from his early life when his owners thought perhaps he was female — but the reptile was forced to stay behind when his owner, Wendy Collins, and her husband fled their home in Santa Clarita on Saturday afternoon. Collins tells ABC News that she wasn't able to get home.
"Because of the tight time frame he was given, my husband was only able to take our two dogs, his bearded dragon and the essentials," Collins says.
The wildfires have led Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control facilities to take in 768 pets and a range of animals, officials say. The agency lists some of the animals it has sheltered during the fire:
- 377 horses
- 187 goats
- 117 chickens
- 34 pigs
Also included: a Brahma bull, llama, mules, sheep, rabbits, ducks, turkeys, donkeys — and three tortoises, officials say. The overall number has fluctuated along with fire conditions, according to Aaron Reyes, deputy director of the County of Los Angeles Animal Care and Control agency.