Speaker Profile


John Maretti
United States
Executive Director
North Valley Animal Disaster Group
Animal Rescue and Sheltering Management during Multi-Week Wildfire Responses in California

The duration of fire seasons, and the intensity of fire events seem to be increasing worldwide. Over four million acres (1,618,743 hectares) of land was consumed by wildfires in California during the 2020 fire season, the highest total in history. Thirty-two people died in the fires, along with countless wild and domestic animals. The North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG), a regional volunteer NGO, responded to multiple fires in 2020, including the North Complex West Fire in Butte County. NVADG also responded to the horrific Camp Fire in 2018, which claimed 86 lives and destroyed the town of Paradise, California. Working within the disaster Incident Command System, and in cooperation with the local government animal control agency, NVADG managed the animal rescue and evacuation component for the fires which included setting up emergency animal shelters, and providing and managing field rescue teams. This presentation reviews the organizational aspects of large scale, multi-week disaster management, as well as the constantly evolving training regimen necessary to prepare animal disaster workers for safe and timely deployment.

[:en]John Maretti is the founder and Executive Director of the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. He is recently retired from the City of Chico Fire Department where he worked for 30 years. In 1999, John founded the North Valley Animal Disaster Group in Northern California which Butte County has adopted as their recognized County Animal Response Team. Currently they have over 400 highly trained active volunteers capable of sheltering and evacuating animals during disasters. Because of the team’s professionalism and high skill-set, they have been embraced by local emergency services. As part of the Emergency Response Network with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, North Valley Animal Disaster Group volunteers have travelled internationally to assist training locals in animal disaster management in India, Philippines, Indonesia, and Africa, as well as responding to national dog fighting and hoarding cases as well as the Nepal Earthquake, Mt. Agung Volcano in Indonesia, and others. The last several years have been extremely busy as the North Valley Animal Disaster Group has responded to numerous local fires locally including the Humboldt Fire, Swedes Fire, Ponderosa Fire, Valley Fire, Carr Fire, Mendocino Complex, Camp Fire, North Complex, as well as the 2017 Oroville Dam Spillway incident.[:]