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Animal shelters take in thousands of pets displaced by wildfire in Arizona - (article)

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Posted by GoatWorld on June 27, 2002 at 21:37:50:

Animal shelters take in thousands of pets displaced by wildfire in Arizona

The Associated Press
6/27/02 5:38 AM

HOLBROOK, Ariz. (AP) -- The barking never seems to stop at this town's high school. A former cowboy bar in a nearby town is crawling with cats and its rodeo grounds are full of horses.

As flames from the largest wildfire in state history whip through eastern Arizona, many of the more than 30,000 evacuees have had to leave their pets behind.

Thousands of animals ended up at animal shelters in Eagar, Payson, Holbrook, Whiteriver and Globe.

In Payson, about 200 animals have arrived and more are expected.

"We've got ferrets and fish, dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, horses," said Payson Humane Society Inc. President Pat Boettcher. "We know there are other pets up there wandering. They're still coming."

Dogs are living in temporary kennels in a storage room at Holbrook High School, which is also serving as an evacuation shelter.

John Kinard, who was evacuated from the Heber-Overgaard area, has to keep his pit bull puppy, Beyonce, there.

"It's been hard on her because she's not used to being on a leash or being stuck in a kennel," said Kinard. "It's been hard on me because I've had to stay in the dorm and I can't have my baby sleep next to me."

At another shelter near Eagar, extra chain-link fencing was being put up to create running lanes for the dogs, said Pam Runquist of United Animal Nations, one of several animal groups helping with the effort.

The fire raced through Heber-Overgaard over the weekend, forcing Trish Rodemeyer to evacuate her home with her own four-legged friend, Sammy, a fox hound.

She returned to town with the Humane Society earlier this week to rescue some pets left behind.

Armed with a list of addresses gathered at the Payson Red Cross shelter, she went house to house, scooping up seven dogs and three cats -- everything from poodles to a husky.

They were loaded into pickup trucks for the ride back to Payson.

"We had permission to break in if need be," said Rodemeyer, who never had to break any glass but did take the screens off a few windows to get inside. "They were hungry and pretty dry, but they were OK."

Boettcher said many Payson residents have taken pets into foster care to help with the overflow. Payson is about 35 miles southwest of the blaze.

"The town has rallied around these animals," said Robert Ware, director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce in Payson. "We've had other people come through like mad."

Meanwhile, Rodemeyer's motel in Payson has allowed Sammy to stay there at night, but during the day he frolics at a pet park along with dozens of other evacuees' pets.

"He's getting used to it," she said. "He's at the point that when you say, `Wanna go play with your friends today?' -- he's ready to go."


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