On September 15, the Boles Fire destroyed 140 homes in Weed, California, population 3,000. One of the homes destroyed was Shasta Sanctuary Animal Rescue which specializes in senior animals. This writer spoke to Gabby Yoakum, who runs the sanctuary, about that terrible day and how some of her animals survived.
The day of the fire she looked out from her front porch and saw smoke. There had been no fire warnings and it was hard to tell how far away the fire might be, but looking at the smoke she decided to be cautious and initiate their evacuation plan and get the leashes. There was no chance. Before she could leave the porch, the wind suddenly gusted, bringing a blast of heat and hot embers. Just like that the fire was on Gabby’s home, her family and their rescue cats and dogs.
The evacuation plan was forgotten. They had no time. Gabby, her daughter and husband began throwing cats and dogs out the door, yelling at them to run so they would have a fighting chance. It was horrible, but it was their only chance. There was not room for all the animals. Her husband dashed with a 120 pound senior mastiff and shoved him in the jeep. A man and his son stopped to help. Ultimately they took eight of the ten dogs and nine of the thirty cats and kittens.
Gabby’s own two cats hid under the bed and Gabby tried to get them. Her husband pulled her out of the house and put her in the car, saving her life. Embers were falling and burned her neck. Her cats, Dufus and Kanga stayed behind under the bed. A fireman came to her later to tell her how hard the firefighters had tried to save the home and that the bodies of three cats were found.
Ordinarily they would not have so many cats, but someone had recently tied two pregnant cats to their fence. Gabby knows they perished with their litters.
The entire house burned. She left her purse, her phone and her children’s baby pictures. When minutes counted, she got was important, the animals who depended on Shasta Sanctuary Animal Rescue. All of them ended up at Gabby’s parent’s house. People began coming by with donations of items needed to care for the animals and people offered to foster.
She does not know yet which cats died, but Dufus and Kanga survived and will live. However, they are critically burned and Dufus may be blind. Dufus was only recognized because he tried to climb, purring, onto his favorite perch, a shoulder. He may have been blinded, but his loving nature is intact. Oddly enough, Dufus was originally found as a kitten in a burned shed.
It is painful for Gabby to care for them as they cannot bear to be touched and they must be touched to be given treatment. Gabby complained about her own burns until she saw her cats. The vet suggested they go home because they would heal better if they were with their family. Gabby was stressing about the vet bill, but there was no question of not treating the cats. Insurance will only cover the house, not the contents, so any expenses at this time mean doing without. Incredibly, a stranger from Napa paid the entire vet bill. When Gabby picked up the cats, she was told the bill was paid. That kindness, along with many other donations, makes her wish that people could always be so nice.
She has been to the burned property looking for her missing animals and people are watching for them.
Shasta Sanctuary Animal Rescue was a place where animals were allowed on the furniture. They mingled with people and animals and learned how to live in a loving home, a skill they needed to transition to being adoptable. Now that home is no more. Gabby is already planning how to design a new home around their passion for saving animals. That will be at least a year away.
In the meantime animals and people are recovering from the first disaster that Weeds has ever known. 140 homes are gone and most of those homes probably had a pet. Firemen rescued living animals and marked ruins to show if any animals were found alive or dead.
Friends of Shasta Sanctuary has stopped collecting donations at Gabby’s request. She asks that donations be made to other organizations, such as Siskiyou Humane Society, whose staff were rescuing while the ground was still hot.
Mount Shasta Animal Hospital is caring for many injured animals. Their number is 530-926-5266 if you care to make direct donations toward the care of burned animals. As in any disaster, the donations needed are cash. Cash donations give the rescuers flexibility to purchase what is needed when it is needed and storage space is not necessary.
Reunite the City of Weeds Animals is a FaceBook page to help with reuniting animals.
Siskiyou Humane Society’s FaceBook page lists found animals, some receiving veterinary care.
Free flyers for lost or found animals are available at HelpingLostPets.com. Other helpful links are listed below.
I am looking for more volunteers from the Humane Society to tell me what goes on in the area away from the public behind closed doors and members of the public to tell me their experiences. Your privacy will be respected and your identity concealed. E-mail email@example.com
Pasted from <yeahstub.com/node/69392981/edit>
Subscribe here (by clicking the link under my biography) to have my new articles e-mailed to you or to sign up for my RSS feed. Stay on top of the current news as it relates to animals in stateside disasters!
Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via social media. You can do this by clicking on the toolbar below this article.
Read this and stories from other writers on Texas Animal Stories on FaceBook
I welcome civil e-mails. If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
As always, you can go directly to my stories here by typing in MarilynsBlog.com