Kiki the cat

Stray felines — Cats Kiki and Alex were brought in to the Healdsburg shelter as strays after the shelter reopened post fire.

20 animals reunited with their owners

Since the Kincade Fire started Sonoma County Animals Services has picked up roughly 50 animals. Now the county service and other local shelters like the Humane Society of Sonoma County are working to reunite those pets with their owners.

During the Kincade Fire and the mass evacuations that followed, pets were on the loose — as they became spooked and ran away or past a gate left ajar while packing up to leave.

“Pets can definitely pick up on stress and they can get out or doors can get left open,” said Ciara Pegg, the animal care coordinator for the Humane Society of Sonoma County Healdsburg Shelter.

Consequently Sonoma County Animal Services had a busy week of calls for service, according to Brian Whipple, operations manager for Sonoma County Animal Services. During the fire, animal services had 1,650 calls — four times the usual amount, Whipple said.

So far animal services has been able to reunite 20 of the found pets with their owners.

Whipple said once an animal service officer brings in a pet, it is checked for a microchip or collar ID tag.

The process is similar for the Healdsburg shelter.

Pegg said the process of returning lost animals to their owners after a disaster “is pretty similar to the regular stray intake process.”

Whipple and Pegg said they use social media to try and identify pets.

During the fire, shelters posted information on their social media pages and had help from the pet rescue and reunification community disaster response group.

The Facebook group, which set up a similar reunification social media campaign during the Camp Fire, established a Kincade rescue page.

The public page allows people to post photos and information on where they lost a pet and who to contact if a pet is found.

Pegg said social media is always a great help in getting pets identified.

Whipple noted that it is also important to come to the shelter at the animal service main facility in Santa Rosa if you believe your pet is there.

Whipple said the fire event was challenging since their facility had to be evacuated along with all of the animals they had picked up and the 30 pet evacuees they were boarding.

“This event was tricky for us because we had to evacuate our animals from our main facility,” Whipple said. “It was challenging but it was done.”

On Oct. 26 the facility had to move 80 animals to the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds. They returned to the Santa Rosa facility on Oct. 30 and reopened to the public on Nov. 2.

Alex the cat

Whipple said it was the first time their shelter was empty since they first opened.  

The Healdsburg shelter also had to evacuate.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have power or gas until yesterday (Oct. 31) so animals were transported to the Santa Rosa location,” Pegg said.

So what happens if an animal’s owner is not found?

“If an owner never comes forward they are spayed and neutered, if needed, and get a behavioral assessment and go up for adoption,” Pegg said.

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