A team effort rescued 24 huskies stranded in a Level 3 evacuation zone near Mulino, Oregon, when wildfire warnings swept the county.
Two groups of animal welfare advocates banded together to save the dogs from a potentially brutal demise after realizing the animals had been left behind by their owner.
Nathan Clements, one of the rescuers, said that he couldn’t imagine leaving any dogs behind, KPTV reported.
“I have had Huskies myself for years, and I dogsled,” Clements said, “and like most mushers I know, we would sooner crouch with our dogs and burn than leave them behind.”
On the fateful day of Sept. 10, troubled by rumors of dogs trapped on a property in a local evacuation zone, Clements drove over to investigate. Upon arriving, he ran into another group of concerned animal advocates with the same inclination.
“I went down and checked out the property and it probably seemed like the dogs needed some help and wouldn’t be doing too good if they were left behind,” Clements said.
Clements and the other volunteers managed to coax all 24 huskies, each disoriented by the bizarre circumstances, into 24 individual travel crates.
“[W]e got all in a line together and caravanned over to the state fairgrounds,” Clements said.
At the Oregon State Fairgrounds, additional volunteers from neighboring Marion County stepped in. Volunteers provided essential supplies, dog food, and comfortable kennels inside which the dogs could safely spend the night.
Sixteen of the huskies were relocated to the Newberg Animal Shelter for their comfort and safety, the KPTV reported. Their owner, who was contacted in the midst of the rescue, helped arrange for the dogs to be transferred.
Tragically, a number of pets and livestock are paying the price of panic-fueled evacuations by being left behind. Newberg Animal Shelter manager Sarah Williams said that the shelter exists to support in times of such crisis.
“[I]t’s really been amazing to watch all of the animal welfare organizations come together to make all of this work and support each other,” she told KPTV.
As a chorus of joyful husky wails fills the corridors of the animal shelter, the groups that went above and beyond to save the abandoned dogs can rest easy knowing that they saved 24 innocent animals from near-certain death.
“It is definitely relieving to know that a bunch of animals aren’t going to be burned alive for no reason,” Clements said.
The states of Oregon, Washington, and California are experiencing a wildfire season of devastating scale. Over 40,000 Oregonians have already been evacuated; half a million more live in zones that may soon be evacuated.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said on her Twitter handle that the state’s “air quality currently ranks the worst in the world.”
“We must protect outdoor workers from exposure to harmful levels of wildfire smoke,” Brown wrote.
On Sept. 14, Brown sent a letter to the White House requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration following the federal emergency declaration on Sept. 10, reported Reuters. The request from the Democratic governor includes a call for additional communications resources, damage-assessment teams, search-and-rescue, and debris management, as well as help with shelter and medical assistance.
The fires have put harmful levels of smoke and soot into the region’s air, painting skies with tones of orange and sepia even as local residents deal with another public health emergency in the coronavirus pandemic, the report stated.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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