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First-hand account of CA animal owners evacuation! A compelling lesson in being prepared to flee at a moment’s notice and how to FIND your rescued animals later!


Barbara "BJ" Andrews, Editor-In-Chief

Update July 2024 | October 18, 2017


Denise Monette lives near Marysville, the county seat of Yuba County (population 72,000) in Northern California. Fire is all too common in rural CA. Animal lovers looking for room to enjoy their pets make the trade-off but are always aware of the risk.


As a professional groomer and dog show breeder-exhibitor, Denise is a capable, always prepared single woman. She was “concerned” about the Oroville Dam spillover but it did them no harm and life went on.


She isn’t one to panic but when she saw the sky turn red over the ridge, Monette was grateful for the adrenaline rush that enabled her to react so quickly. She gathered her little Toy Fox Terriers into the Volvo station wagon and raced down the mountain. There was no time to grab treasured possessions.


Releasing pent-up anguish in a feeble attempt at humor, she observed “my horse won’t fit in the Volvo.


Agonizing over her horse’s horrid fate, she fled into Marysville. Her mind spinning as fast as the Volvo’s wheels, she tried to reassure her little dogs as she navigated a road already filling with desperate traffic. Would her irreplaceable “Craftsman” house survive? Concentrating on the road, Denise whispered a prayer for her mare and for all the little forest animals.


She made it to town, checked her grooming shop, went to the sheriff’s department and was directed to a Red Cross facility already being set up. Would they take her dogs or would she sleep in the shop? Food? Check. Water? Check. Blankies? Yes to all but for others who had fled with nothing, the Red Cross was prepared and organized, offering food, water, and comfort. And they welcomed dogs on leash or pets in crates.


Monette’s home was in a sort of "bowl" so that the fire ran up the hillsides and sparred her facilities. Others were not so lucky. By Wednesday, over 21 deaths had been confirmed as the fire spread to more than 160,000 acres, an area larger than the nation's capital. Wine Country was devastated. California Governor Jerry Brown said "We've had fires before but this is one of the biggest."


On Thursday the death toll climbed to over 25. Hundreds of people were still missing, fires still burned, and officials warned "the situation remains very dangerous."


It did not go unnoticed that Friday was the 13th. Reading this, you are safe. You have power, your dog is dozing by your feet. Estimates of power being restored in burned-out areas exceed 30 days. 


Many pets escaped the fire but are now homeless. The crisis is not over as you read this. Resources are depleted, workers are exhausted, and supplies and funds are low. DONATE to Red Cross! Or follow these links for more information on the CA fires and how you can help animals and their owners!


Napa County Animal Shelter stepped up for "dogs, cats, rabbits and other household animals" Phone is 707) 253-4382. Pets Lifeline Animal Shelter in Sonoma, 707-996-4577, is taking small pets. Marin Humane, 415-250-7009, is offering emergency board for animals already evacuated to Marin. Large animals are accepted at Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Bennett Valley Road, Sonoma Valley High School on Broadway, and the Ukiah Fairgrounds on N. State St, Ukiah.  Napa/Santa Rosa Fires: Lost Animals and the Napa/Santa Rosa Fires Animal Evacuations 2017 both are coordinating animal rescues, helping owners find missing pets, report found pets.


All organizations need funds, supplies and foster homes for displaced pets.


On Monday Monette was able to get to get around the blockade to check on her horse and property. Both were sparred but the fire had come within 20 feet of her fence and the smell and smoke fumes were overwhelming. 


As of Wednesday the 18th, 2017 over 23 are dead and nearly 300 people are still missing.  They are sifting ashes for DNA in a desperate attempt to identify the missing. EST 2002 © Oct 2017 rev 20022407



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