Pet owners cope with loss; hold out hope
June 26, 2007
Tony Colombo and Tara Brennan spent Monday night in the Tahoe Valley Lodge surrounded by their three dogs, two cats and a talking macaw.
With their Mount Olympia Circle home reduced to cinders, and their green-eyed Persian cat lost in the wildfire, the couple headed straight to the El Dorado County Animal Shelter on Tuesday morning to look for their missing feline.
“I don’t know if it looks good,” said Brennan, after entering her cat’s information at the shelter.
“Twenty-four homes out of a street with 26 homes were destroyed, but most people got their animals out,” Brennan said of her neighborhood. “But that is about all they could do. We have the animals and the clothes on our back, and that’s it.”
In the Angora fire, that has burned entire streets of homes, many of the fire evacuees are now scrambling to find their missing animals or locate the bare necessities for their pets.
El Dorado County Animal Control Lt. Robert Gerat has overseen a group of workers that has motored in and out of the burn area trying to save animals.
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“Some of the houses were not there anymore,” said Gerat. “So we had to break the news to the homeowners.”
But for all of the bad news, some bright spots have emerged.
Animal control workers headed to Mount Olympia Circle to rescue a cat.
Between two charred homes stood one intact house. Inside the garage, the workers were able to save a stranded feline.
Other empty homes had evidence that the animals may have survived.
“At some houses we went to, the screens were pushed out,” said Gerat. “So there are probably strays.”
Outside the county shelter in Meyers, where evacuees dropped off a couple of chickens, doves, parakeets and huskies, Gerat explains that his employees are still bringing in food and water to neighborhoods blocked off from the public.
The Lake Tahoe Humane Society has been a hub for emergency pet supplies and donations.
“The public is responding just wonderfully,” said Dawn Armstrong, the society’s executive director.
The society is still looking for donations of brand-name cat and dog food, cat litter and litter pans.
“If we don’t have what they need, we’ll get it,” Armstrong said.
Other groups, including the nonprofit Noah’s Wish and Incline Village’s Pet Network, have also pitched in with help. Noah’s Wish has been housing dozens of pets along with the Sierra Veterinary Hospital and Four Paws Grooming and Boarding.
“We have to make sure that none of these critters fall through the cracks,” said Armstrong.