After more than a week the the Northern California wildfires are finally beginning to approach containment. As officials continue to search for the missing and survivors return to what's left of their homes, we're just beginning to comprehend the massive devastation the blazes have wrought. It's times like these that we have to cling to what author Raymond Carver referred to as the small good things — the little flashes of hope in what's otherwise a tragic world.
For me, many of those small good things are animals. The same seems to be true of many of the victims (both still with us and not) — think of the number of times you've read in the past week about folks who packed the pets in the car as they fled the flames, or pups like Odin and Izzy who were happily reunited with their families.
So here are some more small good animal stories we've heard during these terrible fires. Spoiler alert: In each one of these tales, the beasts survive.
Miracle puppies, born the night fires broke out, found in field near devastated Coffey Park https://t.co/eQ6gsJboHM— Tara Duggan (@taraduggan) October 14, 2017
Santa Rosa resident Linda Hamik has been trying to catch this chubby stray chihuahua for months, and when she was evacuated (twice) the dog remained on her mind. When she was able to return home, she tells SF Gate, she found that the dog had miraculously survived though it was only about a mile from Coffey Park, one of the worst-ravaged areas. Not only that, but around the time the fire broke out Sunday night, the chihuahua was giving birth to six puppies. Hamik's taken the whole family into her garage for fostering until they can be scooped up by an area animal rescue org.
There are a lot of great, happy cat stories out there! Milo, seen in the video above, was rescued from beneath a car by a Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy. KTVU reports that Ed Ratliff (Milo's guardian) says the cat ran off during the rush to evacuate. The resulting fire took Ratliff's home and all his possessions, but other than a bit of dehydration, Milo's fine and back with his family.
Meanwhile, ABC 7 reports, a PG&E worker tasked with fixing Santa Rosa's power lines is operating a side project rescuing cats. So far, she's "reunited two with their families and has taken one to the vet," they report.
Kids with Napa's Vintage High School FFA have also gone into the rescue game, "heading out into the night to rescue livestock in harm's way," ABC 7 reports. The kids picked up 250 horses, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, and chickens and are caring for them at the school's farm until they can be reclaimed by their guardians. Though the some of the beasts suffered "smoke inhalation and stress," they're all expected to recover.
STL 2255A SFFD E37's E.Thomas, J.Bautista find chickens that survived the fire & and were in need of food and water. They are now safe pic.twitter.com/rkhSYIMCLm— San Francisco Fire (@sffdpio) October 16, 2017
I don't have any backstory here, but I appreciate the firefighter's knife technique.
The fire approached Paul and Drusilla Robinson's Santa Rosa home so swiftly that even though they searched for their dog Bill, they had to leave him behind. They were sure he had died, a Marin Humane spokesperson told the SF Gate. According to NBC Bay Area, a "police officer found Bill in a field, shaking with fear as fire and smoke surrounded him." Bill's collar showed his home address, but the residence has been consumed by flames. The folks at Marin Humane managed to track the Robinsons down and they reunited with Bill this weekend.
Napa County Animal Control worked with vets from Napa Valley Equine to save this "85 year old, 200 lb tortoise" as the fire approached. They say via Facebook that "it took 4 people to lift it up into a wheel barrow so they could get it off the property, which had limited road access." The rescue is "a unique highlight," they say, "during such somber times."