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Humane Society finds homes for pets displaced by fire - (article)

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Posted by GoatWorld on June 27, 2002 at 20:15:12:

By Stephanie Spear
Special to the Durango Herald
June 23, 2002

Four-footed evacuees from the Missionary Ridge Fire are finding refuge in foster homes and temporary pastures, under the wing of the La Plata County Humane Society. Even scaled creatures are being helped.

By Saturday, the animal agency had placed 64 dogs, 40 cats, seven turtles, seven fish and a donkey in La Plata County foster homes until their owners can take them back home. The agency arranged for 160 horses to be transported out of areas threatened by fire and helped with the evacuation of llamas, sheep and goats.

"Our priority is to keep the animals alive," said Tonya Kahler, director of animal services for the county.

Kahler is the key contact for emergency management of domestic animals. On Friday, she fielded constant phone calls and linked animals with helpers.

"You look to the people who can (offer assistance), and you bring them together," she said.

Earlier this spring, when drought threatened, Kahler said she began discussions with county officials to develop an emergency livestock evacuation plan. "Missionary Ridge just sort of escorted us into action," she said.

The teamwork also brought Julie McDonald of Helping Hands into the loop. She can provide smaller quantities of animal supplies at her headquarters at the Durango Mall.

Laura Scarafiotti of the Four Corners Backcountry Horsemen is a lead contact in arranging the withdrawal of horses from fire danger zones. She and others worked all night June 15 to evacuate 160 pack and trail horses from the Vallecito area.

Scarafiotti said that as the horse trailers were ready to head out that night, she noticed some stragglers. "Iíll be darned if there werenít two horses out there (in the pasture)," she said.

Laurie Gosney, a ranch owner, is holding 40 extra horses on her property south of Bayfield.

Wal-Mart manager Russell Parker has "saved the animals of La Plata County hand in hand with us," Kahler said. Parker said one of his companyís drivers is expected to deliver a large quantity of hay today from the Colorado Horse Development Authority in Pueblo. He said 600 bags of supplemental horse feed are also on the way, provided by his local store and the corporationís disaster relief headquarters in Arkansas.

Parkerís store has also provided pet supplies to the Humane Society. As of Friday, more than 100 other people had also donated pet food and other supplies.

"Iíve been unendingly impressed to the point of tears with people bringing things here," Kahler said. "People shock me with their generosity."

Among those showing generosity, Kahler said, are about 150 people who have signed up to provide foster care for pets of evacuees.

Meredith Mallett who cared for Mike Carrollís elderly Pomeranian, Killer, and Calico cat, Broccoli, since Carroll was forced to flee his home June 13 in the Aspen Trails subdivision.

"Iím in debt to that sweet lady for the duration," Carroll said. "To me those animals are very, very special."

Sue Hinkle placed her dog Casey, a border collie-blue healer mix, in a foster family after she evacuated her Forest Lakes home. "Sheís confused, you can tell. (The foster family) has been very helpful," she said.

Contents copyright © 2002, the Durango Herald. All rights reserved.

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