Riverside County is seeking more volunteers for the Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue System (REARS). The 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.

The next orientation meeting is Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter at 6851 Van Buren Blvd. An orientation for all prospective shelter and REARS-interested volunteers begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs until about noon. REARS signups then break into a separate orientation. The orientation ends at about 5 p.m.

Only those volunteers that have been certified can assist when REARS is called into action, said Rita Gutierrez, Animal Services’ field division commander.

“When we get large-scale events, we really rely on our REARS members to help us respond fast and safely when it comes to saving and protecting and caring for the county’s larger animals,” Gutierrez said. “One common factor when wildfires happen is the interest from many people that want to help. However, we only use our certified REARS members because they have been through all the crucial training and safety exercises.”

For more information, e-mail to Gutierrez at [email protected]. The REARS volunteer application form can be found at www.rcrears.com/member.htm. The Web site for REARS is located at www.rcrears.com.