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WALDO CANYON FIRE: More than 70 pets rescued from evacuation areas

By: MARY SHINN
June 29, 2012
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photo - The Humane Society is rescuing pets from evacuated areas at the request of pet owners. Photo by Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
The Humane Society is rescuing pets from evacuated areas at the request of pet owners. Photo by Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region 

Animal control officers are reuniting pets left behind during the Waldo Canyon fire evacuations with their owners.

Jin Pack was at work when her neighborhood was evacuated Tuesday night and couldn’t return to pick up her two dogs, a German shorthair pointer and a Rhodesian ridgeback and boxer mix.

She called the police several times to get permission to retrieve her dogs, without success.

A friend suggested she call the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, and animal control officers rescued her pets from her home in the evacuation area an hour and a half after she called.

“As long as my kids are OK and my dogs are OK, really nothing else matters,” she said.

Well over 70 animals have been rescued from homes in the mandatory evacuation areas since Wednesday, and animal control officers from Pueblo, Centennial and Douglas County are helping with the rescues, said Sgt. Ken Gingrich an animal control officer.

Gingrich said cats are the most common pet rescued. He said rescues are made at the request of the pet’s owner, and a house key must be provided.

“You start freaking out and then your cat starts freaking out and next thing you know you can’t find them,” he said.

A turtle and chickens have also been among the rescued.

Gingrich said he worked for 35 hours straight rescuing pets and working at an animal shelter. The expressions of happy pet-owners make his time worthwhile.

Rescues are not limited to Colorado Springs. Crystola, where the fire was visible from the home he was visiting, has been the most distant rescue, Gingrich said.

“You could see the flames climbing up the mountain,” he said.

Officers have permission from law enforcement to rescue animals from areas that are not safe for the public, and they evaluate each rescue for safety, said Erica Meyers a spokesman for the Humane Society.

“This is very dangerous work and not something people should take into their own hands,” Meyers said.

The Humane Society has not released a map of the areas where they are allowed to search for pets, because it is constantly changing, she said.

If your pet ran away during the fire the Humane Society website is a good place to start,  Meyers said.

More than 100 stray animals have come into the Humane Society in the last few days, including about 54 dogs, 82 cats and six other animals, Meyers said.

If you have lost a pet, you can search for it on the website or visit the shelter and fill out a lost animal report.

To request a rescue, call 719-473-1741 extension 1. Law enforcement officers cannot rescue pets based on Facebook posts or other communication.

 To donate visit www.hsppr.org/donateonline.

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