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Helping animals out of harm’s way

Shauna Farnell

Information:

A public meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 at the Summit County Animal Shelter near the County Commons in Frisco for anyone willing to volunteer for animal disaster relief or contribute ideas to a local disaster plan. For more information, call the shelter at (970) 668-3230.

Those wishing to make donations benefitting animals displaced by Colorado fires can make checks out to the Dumb Friends League at DFL Colorado Animal Emergency Relief, and mail them to 2080 S. Quebec St., Denver, CO 80231.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Coloradans have had to leave their homes this past week as the structures stand in the path of fire, and displaced animals have appeared at shelters and as strays throughout the state. Some pets have yet to be claimed.

Colorado Animal Rescue worked around the clock last week when fire broke out in Glenwood Springs, and although workers there have since had a chance to sleep and many owners have reclaimed their pets, the danger of fire and displaced animals still is imminent.

“It was crazy here,” said Leslie Rockey, co-director of Colorado Animal Rescue in Glenwood Springs. “I know we hit the 100 mark with pets from people evacuating. We have 10 of those left now. Between (last) Sunday and Monday, we were here 24 hours, and we got animals at all times of the day and night. We normally house on average, about 25 dogs. We had two to three dogs to a kennel. We had small dogs in crates in the front hallway. We have a big cat room; we had a bunch of the cats in there and were able to set up the rest in the garage. Our garage was packed to the gills. We had little pathways between all the crates and carriers.”

Rockey said a volunteer group was formed in Glenwood to go through the houses that were evacuated to search for pets. She said more than 30 animals, mostly cats, were rescued.

“I know of three dogs that just didn’t make it,” she said. “I know one person left his dog tied up in the yard, which just breaks my heart. Another house, the lady was at work in Aspen and she was evacuated but didn’t know about it until it was too late. Her dog was in the house. She’s not dealing very well. People just got out so quick, and some people weren’t home. Some were out of town. Overall, I think people were trying to get their animals out.”

As of Monday, the Glenwood fire was about 60-percent contained, but its path isn’t the only area in Colorado where animals are being displaced. The Summit County Animal Shelter currently is housing four dogs found at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. All the dogs are believed to be from the same household evacuated from the Hayman Fire, but all shelter staff has for owner contact information is a first name and a phone number.

“All we can do is wait and let the owner try to track them down,” said Summit shelter director Nancy Ring, who estimates about 1,000 animals, both domestic and livestock, have been displaced throughout Colorado due to fires.

The Douglas and Jefferson County fairgrounds are being used to house evacuated horses and livestock from the Hayman Fire, and Front Range animal shelters are flooded with displaced dogs and cats.

“The Douglas County shelter is full,” Ring said. “The Douglas County Fairground has about 300 horses, and I have no idea how many went to Jefferson County. What we want to do here is organize a response plan for volunteers to be utilized in a disaster of any magnitude. It’s about getting animals back to where they belong, not long-term housing. It’s just getting them out of harm’s way.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.


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