Cruelty-to-Animals Charges Sought for Accused Caldor Fire Starters

For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

El Dorado County, Calif. – This morning, PETA sent a letter to El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson asking him to add cruelty-to-animals charges, as appropriate, to those that David and Travis Smith currently face for allegedly igniting the Caldor fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes and other structures, decimated animal habitats, and undoubtedly burned countless animals—killing many.

The Caldor fire burned a black bear’s paws so severely that he had to be euthanized, wildlife rescues have reported treating porcupines and a fox injured in the fire, and animal shelters and veterinary clinics treated cats for painful burns—and those are just the injuries that have been reported. PETA notes that causing this kind of unjustifiable physical pain or suffering needs to be recognized as a violation of California’s animal protection laws.

“Countless animals, from the smallest woodland mice to the largest deer and bears, surely suffered agonizing, terrifying deaths when the Caldor fire swept through more than 220,000 acres of forests,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “These victims deserve acknowledgement, and PETA is calling for cruelty charges to be filed against those responsible.”

After hearing from PETA, another California prosecutor’s office expanded its criminal investigation into PG&E’s role in the Zogg fire to include injury and death to animals and a prosecutor in Oregon charged an accused arsonist with eight counts of first-degree animal abuse for allegedly causing the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, a goldfish, chickens, and a raccoon.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind