The wildfires that ravaged our western states this year were devastating. It’s estimated that the historic California wildfires may lead to as much as $8 billion in insured losses.
The surge in October wildfires killed at least 43 people in California and injured 185.
However, one aspect of the tragic loss many of these western families recently experienced may not have even crossed your mind.
And that’s the loss of beloved pets.
Unfortunately, quick evacuation orders don’t always leave the time to locate your furry friend. Not to mention the fact that frightened animals can also act out and run away.
Fortunately, there are animal lovers who will stop at nothing to save displaced pets and reunite them with their grieving owners. Some of them work at animal shelters. Others are volunteers. All of them are heroes.
Some Pets Left Behind in Evacuations
Many people in California and other western states were forced to quickly evacuate their homes as those deadly wildfires swept in.
They would grab whatever they could as fast as possible. But sometimes a cherished pet was nowhere to be found.
These folks were sickened by the thought of leaving their pets behind to fend for themselves during this tragedy. But they had no choice.
They had to evacuate to save the lives of their families and themselves.
Animal Shelters to the Rescue
Thankfully, we are now hearing stories that many of those pets survived the fires. And, quite a few of them have been reunited with their families.
Many kind individuals who found lost cats, dogs and other animals took the time to turn them into shelters and veterinary offices.
Napa County Animal Shelter is one example of a shelter stepping in to help care for these distressed and lost animals.
Beyond over 100 dogs and cats, the Napa Shelter has also taken in goats, alpacas, horses, burros, chickens and geese after the destructive wildfires blew through.
Facebook pages were created to help owners find missing pets. One such group, the Sonoma and Napa Fires Missing and Found Pets page, currently has over 3,500 members. A total of 605 messages were posted on this site in the last day alone.
People in those shelters and offices then used microchips to identify some of those animals and notify owners.
Other pet owners checked in with those shelters and offices regularly. Some luckily learned that their pets had indeed been found.
Family Loses Cat While Escaping Fire
The Trabucco’s were two of the many people in northern California who went through this traumatic ordeal in October.
At 1:30 in the morning, smoke came pouring into their Santa Rosa home. They had only a few minutes to get out.
While her husband was grabbing their three children and a dog, Jennifer scooped up their two cats.
But just outside the front door, the cats panicked and leapt out of her arms. They bolted in different directions and Jennifer was able to corral only one of them.
Luke Reunited with Delighted Family
The family escaped the fires just in time. But plenty of tears were shed for their lost cat, Luke.
A few days later, they received a call from the Sonoma Humane Society. Luke had been found!
His paws were burned, but he was bandaged and recovering following treatment. Ironically, the two cats had been adopted by the Trubucco’s after a fire destroyed an outdoor area where they’d been born.
“(Luke) has been glued to us and purring,” Jennifer said following her cat’s second rescue. “All he wants is to be held.”
Chickens, Horses and Goats Also Rescued
Of course, Luke was not the only lucky animal to be saved by people who went out of their way to help.
A woman named Odessa Gunn saved a chicken that had scalded its feet on the hot ground while trying to escape the flames. She handed the animal over to CalFire crew members, who delivered it to the Sonoma Humane Society.
One woman whose barn was located away from the raging fires posted on Facebook that she had room for horses in distress. She also collected hay donations for them.
Elsewhere, a member of the California Guard rescued a duck that had been left in a cage… Rescuers entered a burned house and pulled out a cat that was returned to its owners… A father and his deaf teenager raced against time to save 51 animals as the flames approached… Instead of running away, a dog stayed in a barn to protect eight goats from the fires.
Unsung Heroes Turn Anguish to Delight
The inspiring stories go on and on.
Sadly though, many pets are still reported missing in fire-ravaged states. And humane societies are treating and holding other animals whose owners have not yet been found.
This is a great reminder for many of us with pets to have them micro-chipped. And to make sure their collars include a tag with a phone number.
Wildfires may not be a concern where you live. But you never know when one of your precious pets might get loose and run away. A joyous reunion with a pet certainly beats agonizing over a lost pet, any day of the week.
And a big part of why those reunions occur are the heroes in our communities who step up to find and take care of displaced animals. Sacrificing their own safety, they do everything in their power to save animals. And turn grief into joy for their owners.
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