Since August 15, more than 3.6 million acres have burned in California. In their wake, a mass exodus of families has sought shelter, leaving behind burned out homes and ravaged communities. As with so many disasters that the American Humane team has seen over the years, animals have been lost and terrified, fighting for their lives.
Tumultuous weather events like wildfires terrify animals and, as their families evacuate, instincts kick in, causing them to bolt and act unlike themselves. Both owned animals and strays seek shelter where they can, lasting on what water they can find before rescuers come to their aid. Once found, those animals need care. Many are injured, hungry and even dangerously close to death. Families do not always know if their animals have made it out or not. Temporary shelters are set up as part of the disaster response effort to care for and heal, both physically and emotionally, animals that have suffered untold trauma during the wildfires.
American Humane Rescue teams began arriving in Northern California on Friday, September 25th to respond to a call for help to care for animals in Butte County. In the town of Oroville, where American Humane Rescue also deployed to in 2018, there are two animal shelters at which our team is working. Over 200 animals are currently being cared for in Oroville, including dogs, cats, chickens, bunnies and even some exotic birds. American Humane personnel are working sunrise to sundown to ensure animals pulled from the flames are well fed, safe, cared for and loved.
On Saturday night, rescuers pulled two dogs, likely cattle dog mixes, out of harm’s way. The situation was so dire that each dog needed to be sedated before they could be brought to the shelter. Their fur was matted and dirty, their eyes looked vacant. The horrors that these pups faced is truly unknowable. Over the past two days, thanks to the consistent, gentle and patient love of our team of first responders on the ground, these dogs have started to show the spark of life again.
At first when their kennels were opened, they would lie on the floor, ears drooping, too scared to move. A veteran American Humane responder, Corie, patiently sat with these dogs, talking to them, petting them softly and showing them love. It wasn’t easy, but she gained their trust, and convinced them to step outside into the sun.
Already, these dogs are showing the spark of life. For the responders here on the ground and the teams of people who have been working to keep these dogs safe and healthy, it’s stories like these that keep them going. These animals want a second chance at life, they just need help securing it.
The teams on the ground need supplies to continue caring for these animals – food to feed them, medicine to administer, blankets to keep their kennels warm at night, A/C machine to keep them cool during the dangerously warm days. There are less glamorous supplies – trash bags, paper towels and disinfectants, to name a few. Your donation can help these dogs and cats, and others like them, continue fighting for life. If you are able, please donate at http://www.americanhumane.org/wildfire-response.