Furry flee fire

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A 45-foot tree toppled into power lines near a house on Bluebell Lane June 3 in Evergreen. The sparked blaze was named The Bluebell Fire that burned 10 acres and forced the evacuation of homes within a four-mile radius, displacing people and animals alike.

While the people could stay with friends, or a hotel, not all pets and animals had that opportunity.

Lucky for them, Jefferson County residents have a safe, close and free place to go. A total of 64 animals, consisting mostly of dogs and cats, with a few rabbits thrown in, were brought to the Foothills Animal Center in Golden.

“Many were brought in by their owners, but there have been a few brought in by Animal Control, because some owners were not allowed to go back to their homes,” Foothills Animal Center Director of Community Relations Jennifer Strickland said.

Luckily, the center had adequate room for all the evacuated pets. Strickland said Denver Metro Area animal shelters were ready and able to house more pets if needed.

The evacuation area included many rural homes, with large houses and yards, and Strickland said that translated into more large-breed dogs, and more multi-pet households.

“We’ve got people with cats, dogs, the whole crew being brought in,” Strickland said.

According to Strickland, roughly the same number of animals were brought to the center during last year’s Lower North Fork Fire, though they saw more chickens during that incident.

Larger animals were evacuated to the nearby Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Jefferson County Horse Council volunteer Manager Barb Suggs, the operations head for the county’s large animal evacuation plan, said a total of 40 horses and six alpacas were penned at the fairgrounds during the evacuation.

Sugg said her small group of volunteers had a simple mission: “Make sure the horse is safe, water it, feed it, and send it home to the right owner.”

With the fire season just starting, both Sugg and Strickland suggested everyone have an evacuation plan ready, and that it includes plans for family animals. Sugg said one important preparation for horse owners should be teaching their animal to be comfortable with being loaded onto a trailer.

“Have a crate ready. Have friends or family members on call that can take pets in,” Strickland suggested.

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