Animal Rescue Reserve: 46 Years of Saving Lives

From fires to floods, we’re no strangers to disaster in San Diego. Even though our region is a paradise, the risk of an emergency is always present. Which means it’s critical to be prepared to protect our county’s animals no matter the circumstances. Fortunately, our Animal Rescue Reserve is always ready to save animals when disaster strikes.

ARR is a specially trained group of staff and volunteers who are able to assist any domestic or even wild animal in a life-threatening or emergency situation. ARR members can be activated for a rescue at any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Just about a month ago, our Humane Officers and ARR team responded to a call of a horse that fell into a pool in Alpine on a night that a frost advisory was in effect and temperatures were frigid. We quickly deployed our ARR Technical Rescue Team, which is expertly trained to rescue animals with precision equipment and skill. They were on-scene within 30 minutes. It took a substantial amount of equipment, five ARR members, three Humane Officers and four firefighters, but fortunately, the horse was safely rescued from the pool and suffered only minor injuries.

There’s a regular need for animal rescues like these in our community, so we’re fortunate to have this expert team available to respond. Our ARR team consists of 60-75 amazingly dedicated lifesavers at any one time; some have committed more than 40 years of service to this rescue group. They’ve been on the frontline of local disasters like fires and landslides for 46 years, and have also responded to aid in disaster relief efforts for national tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike.

It’s thanks to you, our loyal supporters, that we’re able to be the lifeline that these animals need when disaster strikes. We’re grateful for these dedicated volunteers who are always on call to rescue animals in distress. They’re real heroes. And most of all, we’re grateful for a community that values animals as much as ours does. Together, we can keep them all safe, sound and out of harm’s way.

For the animals – all of them,

Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society

Dr. Gary Weitzman's Signiture


History of Animal Reserve Rescue

The devastating 1970 “Laguna Fire” claimed the lives of many animals because owners were either without the means to move them or were prevented from accessing the area. Other animals were lost when private citizens, offering to help, transported them away from the danger, but were unable to return them to their families, and in some cases, charged exorbitant prices to return them.

In the aftermath, San Diego Humane Society saw a need for an organized group of individuals ready, willing and trained to provide the services that were so obviously lacking to protect our animals in times of disaster. It was then, in May of 1971, that the Animal Rescue Reserve was formed. ARR has extensive, specialized training for all members, totaling more than 5,000 hours per year, so they remain ready to respond when disaster strikes.