For the American Humane Rescue team on the ground in Northern California, the days begin before sunrise. During the forty-minute drive to the animal shelters in Oroville, the sun peaks over the horizon, lighting up the haze from the wildfires – an ever-present reminder of why our animal first responders are here.
The scene on the ground is dynamic and ever-changing, with resources being allocated across different shelters according to need. Our team’s resolve has been tested by the long, labor-intensive days. During disasters such as wildfires, it is not just pulling an animal from danger and calling it a day. Every animal requires continuous care until they can be reunited with their family or placed into a forever home. The task of caring for so many animals is nothing short of monumental.
It is the small gestures of love and affection injured and frightened animals show that make the hard work so worth the effort.
Currently, shelter operations are largely divided between cats and dogs. While each animal rescued presents an individual challenge, caring for each group has its own rhythm. For the cats that have been pulled from the flames of the wildfires, only the gentlest of hands and the most patient of rescuers will do. Veteran American Humane rescuer Donna has been working 14-hour days ensuring that every single cat at her shelter is clean, comfortable and on the healing path.
As she cares for the animals, teams of veterinarians and veterinary technicians come in to deliver much-needed medical assistance, which includes regularly changing the bandages on burned paws. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a terrified cat whose paws have been marred by disaster slowly regain a vigor for life and start purring.
On the dog side of operations, several bright-eyed puppies have brought joy to our responders’ hearts, even as their own bodies are aching from laborious work. One puppy in particular, who volunteers have taken to calling ‘Frank,’ seems to be a never-ending source of energy. Frank gives his eponym, Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, a run for his money with his beautiful baby blues.
American Humane’s team is committed, heart and soul, to caring for animals as part of the ongoing rescue efforts.