The towns of Pine and Strawberry remain under evacuation orders as the Backbone Fire expands beyond thirty-two thousand acres, yet to be contained. Emergency shelters have been set up in Payson for people, their pets and livestock. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Bretta Nelson of the Arizona Humane Society who is on the ground in Payson with an emergency response team.
What should people know if they are in the evacuation zone and have pets to care for?
The Arizona Humane Society has set up a temporary animal shelter at Rim County Middle School in Payson, Arizona, this address is 304 South Meadow Street in Payson…. We provide 24-hour care for the pets of Backbone Fire evacuees. So if you need help, you can come to the college and we’ll register your pets, and we’ll provide food, walks, love, of course, and a safe place for them to sleep. the night.
And what kind of animals are you able to take?
We bring pets here, we are up to 25 dogs in college. There is a livestock area set up, as I understand it’s at the Payson Event Center, so if you have livestock you want to go to the Payson Event Center, but for cats and dogs, you can come to Rim Country Middle School.
How are you doing in space, do you still have room?
Yeah. Space is a little tight, getting tighter in the room we’re in, but we’re in the middle and the Red Cross shelter has been moved to the high school next door, we’ve got a bit of space. space to expand.
How is everyone feeling, how are the people there?
Definitely a lot of emotions, we had a woman in the car yesterday in tears, she had four dogs she needed help with, and was looking for us, and ran into us and was so excited when she finally knew that she had a place to go, she also had goats, so right after she dropped off her dogs, she was going to take their goats to another place. Definitely a sense of relief for these pet owners. Some of the pet owners who stay at the high school, which is very close, actually come twice a day and walk their dogs, it’s wonderful to see how the animals react. We who work as staff working with these pets really care about them, I have a few favorites that I will miss when I leave here. The pets are in good spirits, sometimes they are a little stressed when they come in, but we try to make them as comfortable as possible, they have their bedding and blankets, and very large ventilated kennels, and treats that arrive , little bits of cheese, and stuff like that, we gave them. We have a calming spray that we can put on their bedding, and we’re playing classical music for them right now. We try our best, and I think when owners come in and see that their pets have a very cool place to stay – because it’s too hot right now, some owners take them with them during the day to different places, but when the heat started to get so high, they wanted them to have air conditioning. Spirits are good I think pet owners are eager to bring their pets home and see if they still have homes when all of this is said and done but for now everyone is good mood.
All right, hang in there, thank you for the work you do.
You too, thank you very much.
Backbone Fire updates here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7545/ in
Arizona Humane Society, information on preparing for animal evacuations: https://www.azhumane.org/events/disaster-preparedness/