(13 Sep 2020) The cats have burnt paws covered in bandages, some of their bellies are seared and, in one case, a cat nicknamed Depot because he was found by the Home Depot, is hooked up to oxygen because their lungs suffered damaged from the hot smoke.
The almost dozen cats being diligently treated by veterinary staff at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center hospital are some of the unknown numbers of pets and livestock hurt by the wildfire that burnt through towns in southwestern Oregon.
Staff here is working even though some of them have had to evacuate or had family impacted, said Rory Applegate, a veterinarian at Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center.
“This is a huge emotional toll on everyone here,” she said.
“And so it’s kind of balancing out the management of our critical patients with just making sure that we can stay stable ourselves. This is just a lot for everyone.”
The hospital is trying to reunite cats with their owners and have posted pictures on their Facebook page.
Applegate said she expects animals to feel the impact of the heavy smoke in the coming days, too.
Near the hospital are the county fairgrounds, where the Jackson County animal shelter relocated after evacuating from their building in Phoenix, one of the towns that bore the brunt of the fire damage.
Shelter staff evacuated 58 dogs and 36 cats.
Most of those animals went to foster care in nearby homes, but dozens of more animals like horses, goats, dogs and cats have streamed in, said shelter manager Kim Casey.
Even without a building, the shelter is still welcoming animals that have been found or from owners who can’t take care of them, Casey said.
Dozens of crates are lined up and mounds of donated food are in an equestrian arena at the fairgrounds.
Casey said that the shelter is functioning well despite the evacuation.
She points to the outpouring of help, “it’s a very human need to feel that somebody can participate and try and help.”
Oregon authorities have said more than 1,500 square miles (3,880 square kilometers) have burned in recent days, nearly double the size of a typical year and an area larger than Rhode Island.
More than 40,000 people have been evacuated and about 500,000 are in different levels of evacuation zones, Gov. Kate Brown said.
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