Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

WALDO CANYON FIRE: Animals being pampered during evacuation

CAROL MCGRAW Updated: June 25, 2012 at 12:00 am

Eric Meals, a Chipita Park evacuee was a bit worried about his cat Minx and three horses, so he went visiting Monday to ease his mind.

First he stopped at Norris- Penrose Equestrian Center. The horses were evacuated there Saturday by volunteers for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services. They had plenty of feed, and huge fans were cooling the barns.

Then it was on to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. They don’t allow visits, since they have too many animals to honor such requests, he said. But he was told Minx was doing just fine.

Meals had his cattle dog Zip with him. His other dog was at a friend’s home, where they were all staying.

“They are all being pampered so much, they won’t want to go home” he laughed.

Since the Waldo Canyon fire started, volunteers have been at work at both animal facilities. The Humane Society was filled to capacity Sunday, but began accepting a limited number of evacuated pets again Monday. Spaces opened up when some Manitou residents took their pets home after evacuation order in their area was lifted.

Erica Meyer, shelter spokeswoman said they had 96 animals from Manitou, and some had been retrieved. Altogether, the shelter has housed have at least 144 evacuated animals, plus the 40 to 60 regular strays.

Staff has been working 12-hour shifts. Some have manned the phones overnight. The shelter has readied another kennel site in Colorado Springs to take in more animals if needed. The location has not been revealed because they don’t want people going there yet.

Zeffer Betts, was at the shelter retrieving Elvis and Basile, two cats she dropped at the shelter Sunday after evacuating her west side home.

Betts was excited to get them back. “They are my babies.They usually eat dry food, but there are going to get a special treat of wet food and some catnip when we get home.”

The dogs at the shelter are enjoying soothing music and walks. Several volunteer veterinarians have checked them out.

Volunteer Marilyn Schrepel, came in at 8 a.m. and had walked more than 15 dogs by noon. The biggest was a mastiff, the smallest, a shih tzu. Schrepel wore an apron her mother had made for her with a cat-patterned fabric. She carried treats for the displaced animals..

Schrepel lives only a couple of blocks outside the Mountain Shadows evacuation zone, and has been worried about her own Old English sheepdog Frank, but her son is now caring for him. “I’ll be here as long as they need me.”

There are 200 displaced horses, mules and donkeys at nearby at Norris-Penose Equestrian Center, 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road. They have room for 300, said Jen Ostrander, barn manager. Veterinarians have been visiting those stabled, taking special care with older horses who are more prone to stress and respiratory problems.

Robin Koken and her daughter were grooming their horses India and Sashay. They had been boarded at Academy Riding Stables in Garden of the Gods, before being evacuated with about 126 other horses.

“India is a little spooky,” noted Koken. “But Sashay, well, she has been like, “Wow, this is an exciting adventure.”

Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook Carol McGraw

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