Flagstaff Sedona Dog Magazine

Leader of the Pack

Last month I had the honor of participating in animal rescue during the Goodwin Fire evacuations near the Mayer and Dewey-Humboldt communities.  I was going to say that I had the “pleasure” of participating, but it was definitely not a pleasurable time for the folks who live in that area and had to leave their homes.

It was, however, an honor and a pleasure for me to help out in some small way.  Animal Disaster Services set up the shelter for pets evacuated from the area.  Those evacuations went on for over a week.  Some animals got to go home after a few days, but many stayed the whole time.  Some ADS volunteers worked tirelessly day and night in shifts, and many worked the whole time.  I worked an 8-hour shift as a volunteer in the ADS dog shelter set up at the high school in Prescott Valley.  The cat shelter was set up in the next building, and equine and large animals were taken to the ADS shelter set up at the old fairgrounds property in Prescott Valley

Animal Disaster Services is the only group of its kind in the state of Arizona. They have three trailers in Yavapai County in three locations—Prescott, Camp Verde, and Black Canyon City. They are deployed, when needed, by Yavapai County Emergency Management. Only trained members of ADS can volunteer at these shelters. (They can’t take walk-in volunteers due to insurance regulations.)

However, anyone can join ADS and get the training needed to be able to work at the shelters during an emergency.  I have been a member of ADS for a few years now, training at some of their monthly meetings and drills.  This was the first time I have been called on to put some of this training to use.

It was a very good learning experience for me and renewed my faith in the goodness of people when their neighbors are facing such a disaster as fire or flood.  The people evacuated from their homes had to leave quickly, with only their family members and their animals.  Their homes and property and belongings were left behind—their fate unknown.  At least they could have peace of mind that their animals were being taken care of while they were displaced.

ADS shelter totals during the Goodwin Fire evacuations were 78 dogs, 61 cats, 8 other and 260 animals at the fairgrounds (53 equine, 16 goats, alpacas, pigs, ducks, and a parakeet). Cattle were taken to a nearby ranch that offered space. All of these animals were lovingly cared for by volunteers who fed and walked and held and cleaned each and every animal until they could be reunited with their owners.

Coconino Humane Society also sent a group of their volunteers to Prescott and opened an animal evaluation shelter at Yavapai College.  Kachina Animal Hospital accepted evacuated pets.  Many ranches opened their gates to the large animals.  Individuals with trailers patrolled the area, picking up the large animals and taking them to safety.  Someone asked for help evacuating their horses or sheep and five pick-ups pulling trailers showed up.  The outpouring of donated pet food, blankets and portable kennels was enormous.  Thank you to everyone who helped!

See Flagstaff-Sedona Dog, April-May 2016 Cover Story for more information on Animal Disaster Services.


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