By Devon Krusko, Field Services and Community Programs Manager
Descending into Sacramento, California, the smoke was noticeable. It seeped into the airplane cabin, and passengers began peering out the tiny plane windows and commenting about the fires. I did the same. The sky, the color of rust and thick with smoke, carried with it a heavy feeling.
I was headed to Redding, where the Trinity County Animal Shelter had requested RedRover’s assistance managing their emergency animal shelter for the Monument Fire. As I write this, weeks after deployment, the Monument Fire is still burning and has surpassed 200,000 acres. In August, the massive wildfire forced evacuations of owned and stray animals to a temporary, emergency shopping plaza location. Between the pilates studio and the ever-popular Fast Weenie’s hot dog stand, 50 animals – including dogs, cats, and “smallies” – found safety in an unlikely location.
I arrived to a most grateful, albeit exhausted, animal control officer – the only one for the county –who was also managing the emergency shelter. Christina is incredibly hard working, dedicated, and kind, and I am grateful to cross paths with folks like her while on deployment.
It was easy to fall in love with the shelter residents: a family of three French Bulldogs named Harvey, Moochie, and Poppy; one English Bulldog, Cinnabon, and their 100+ lb Mastiff sister, Isis; an unlikely foursome (pawsome?!) including a Great Dane, a Toy Poodle, a Great Pyrenees, and, you guessed it, another French Bulldog! There were many families like this, very much loved multi-animal homes that make it challenging to stay temporarily at a hotel or friend’s home during a natural disaster.
Our team was beyond honored to care for these sweet furry souls! We were able to get creative with space and build out large apartment-style kennel areas where pet families could be housed together to decrease stress, as well as separate exercise areas for dogs and cats so they could spend time with people outside of their crates. More space – combined with enrichment like Kongs, catnip, hidey spaces, and miles of walks a day – made for quite happy animals in a difficult situation.
And in the end, every single owned animal was reunited with their people – the best outcome we could possibly hope for!