The services provided are at no charge to the owners of the large animals that have been evacuated by the large wildfire west of Fort Collins, said Dr. Brian Miller.
Miller; Dr. Brittney Bell; Kim Ellis, the head equine nurse at the hospital; and four senior veterinary students have spent 11-hour days checking on animals that come into The Ranch. They initiated the visits through Ellis’ friend Gina Gonzales, a firefighter with Loveland Fire and Rescue and co-president of the Larimer County Technical Emergency Animal Rescue Team.
“We’re doing physical exams, health checks and treating anything we’ve seen that needed attention,” Miller said. “At this point, just some minor smoke inhalation and dehydration from lack of water, some abrasions and a few cuts.”
Moving forward, Miller expects new animals that Larimer County Sheriff’s Posse bring to the shelter will likely need more attention.
“There’s a large number that did not have time to get out,” Miller said. “There’s still plenty of animals up there that have been without water for several days.”
People are sharing stories about animals coming directly to rescuers when they meet them at the fire site, Ellis said.
“Two companion donkeys came in, and after talking to a neighbor who knows them, he is convinced the one dominant donkey kept the group of two donkeys and four draft horses safe,” Ellis said. “One of the volunteer haulers who brought this group in told me this herd was standing in a lush green meadow, and when they arrived, the lead donkey with singed whiskers walked up to him and laid his head into his chest.
“The few owners that I did meet and see reunited with their animals were very grateful for the immediate care and assessment as they were coming off of the trailers by the team,” Ellis said. “What we do for the animals and see in their eyes – that’s enough for me.”
According to a report issued by the Colorado Department of Emergency Management on the evening of June 15, the High Park Fire has grown to 52,068 acres and is 15 percent contained. Late last night, more evacuation orders were issued due to increased spot fire activity. Officials are informing homeowners about fire damage as it becomes available. To date, 31 homeowners from the Stratton Park, Pine Acres and parts of Poudre Canyon have been notified that their homes have been destroyed. An additional 17 homes in the Poudre Canyon have also been destroyed. The assessment is still underway and this number will continue to grow. There are still many unburned areas within the perimeter of the fire, so evacuated residents should not assume their homes are damaged or destroyed. Lightning has been confirmed as the cause of the fire.
For more information about the Disaster Recovery Center and the High Park Fire, visit our website at www.larimer.org/highparkfire. Public information is available at the Larimer County Emergency Information line at 970-498-5500 where Information Officers are answering the phone, and at www.larimer.org or on Twitter @larimersheriff, or Inciweb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/.