You can see the fire? from the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, north of Denver. While the campus is not considered to be in danger, the impact of a disaster so closeby is immense. A group from the University are on site at the large animal rescue and evacuation facility created in the Ranch-Way Feeds Livestock Pavilions at The Ranch events complex to provide healthcare services to animals in need. CSU has helped prepare a report on what is going on:
Veterinarians and students from Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital are spending the week at The Ranch in Loveland caring for several hundred animals displaced by the High Park Fire.
The services provided are at no charge to the owners of the large animals who have been evacuated by the large wildfire west of Fort Collins, said Dr. Brian Miller, who is the "James Herriott" of the teaching hospital as director of Equine Field Services.
Miller has been working with? Dr. Brittney Bell, Kim Ellis, who is the head equine nurse at the hospital, and four senior veterinary students; together, they 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, or TEAR, Team.
The Ranch is the designated evacuation area for large animals who have been displaced by the fire.
"Gina and I are good friends, and I've been going through her because of the incident command protocol. We both felt we needed to get veterinary support out there as the horses were coming in," Ellis said.
So far, they've examined about 150 horses, 150 alpacas and llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats and calves.
"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, he expects new animals brought to the shelter by the Larimer County Sheriff's Posse 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."
CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Equine Services accepts donations for the program at https://advancing.colostate.edu/cvmbs*53943.
Information on animal rescue and evacuation is being handled by Larimer County Humane Society.
To Learn More:
Colorado Daily looks inside the evacuation center for horses at Larimer: Defenseless animals find safety from High Park fire
The fantastic panorama of smoke at the top of the page is by David Kingham; other photos via Colorado State University (thanks!).