Colorado wildfire unveils animal rescue heroes

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When Michelle Sikorski and her father were ordered by the fire marshal to leave their home as the Black Forest fire raced toward it, they couldn’t locate their pets and time was running out, according to a USA Today video report. Imagine their anguish of having to leave without them. The fire marshal promised he would find them, and he made good on that promise. The Sikorskis, pets and people, were reunited.

black and white cat in a shelter

Shelters all across the region are working to care for displaced pets.

Many Petfinder shelters are responding to the crisis. The Humane Society of the Pike’s Peak Region Grants and Corporate Relations Manager Marsha Wayman says that her organization alone has already reunited over 300 animals with their grateful families.

The Petfinder Foundation is responding with grants to assist shelters who have unexpected costs because of the massive rescue effort.

But in such devastating disasters, some pets don’t make it. Ashley Csencsits was away from home when the fire approached, according to an article by Abbie Burke for Fox21News. Csencsits’s dogs, cats and horses were in the fire’s path. She tried to reach them but was turned back. It was too dangerous.

Later she got the devastating news that the dogs and one cat had perished in the fire. The dogs’ bodies were found together.

“But it was the actions of a few firefighters and two police officers that left Csencsits speechless,” wrote Burke.

While going through the rubble after the fire, some firefighters found the dogs, and Csencsits said, “We were notified that the firefighters actually took the time to bury each of the dogs separately. They put a headstone for each one of them, wrote a note to the family.” Their kindness helped her deal with the heartbreak. Her horses managed to escape and two cats survived. Seven were unaccounted for, according to the article. We hope that they are found soon.

An army of people, those involved in rescue on a regular basis and just ordinary pet lovers, go to extreme lengths to find and even trap pets that are traumatized and disoriented during and after natural disasters. Sometimes pets go into hiding and may not be found for months. Some rescuers put out food regularly and return again and again for weeks or months, regaining the pets’ trust so they can eventually be brought to shelters and reunited with their families. These people are heroes, and we want to express our admiration for them. We also want to thank those like the firefighters who treat pets’ lives with dignity.

One last thought: Disasters like wildfires and tornadoes remind us of the importance of getting pets microchipped so that it’s easier to reunite found pets with their families. Don’t put it off. Disaster strikes unexpectedly.

Donate to the Petfinder Foundation to help pets affected by the Colorado wildfire.