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July 6, 2012

Fast-Moving Fire in Idaho Catches Pet Owners Short

The HSUS brings relief to stranded animals

The HSUS's Animal Rescue Team

  • In Montana, Wendy Hergenraeder brought food and water to a dog who was tied under a trampoline. Dave Pauli/The HSUS

Wildfires continue to scorch many states. Our staff sent updates from areas where we are working to help animals after disasters.

Little time to escape

A wildfire destroyed 66 homes in Pocatello, Idaho, ironically just days after Heather Bialy and I presented a half-day workshop on disaster response to both the Pocatello Animal Shelter and Chubbock Animal Control.

The fire started in the foothills, and with a sudden shift in the wind completely engulfed a subdivision in minutes. The residents had very little time to get out of their homes, and only those who had their pets close by were able to save them and get out safely.

I helped the Bannock Humane Society set up an emergency shelter and then drove back to Pocatello where I assisted area animal control officers in searching for loose or injured animals.

Preparation is the key to survival in disasters, for you and your pets. Here's how to be ready.

Most of the dogs who perished in the fire were tied up outside, their owners unable to untie them before fleeing the rapidly spreading fire. It was heartbreaking to watch people come to the shelter hoping to find that their pet had escaped, only to have to identify a charred tag or part of a collar found at their former address.

The few animals running loose were captured and taken to the local shelter, where they were checked over free by local veterinarians and reunited with their owners. The Pocatello Animal  Shelter will hold an adoption event in the future offering a free dog or cat to those who lost their companions in the fire.
Lisa Kauffman, HSUS state director, Idaho

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