Coconino Humane Association [Flagstaff, Arizona]

Coconino Humane Association [Flagstaff, Arizona]

Coconino Humane Association [Flagstaff, Arizona]
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Coconino Humane Association [Flagstaff, Arizona]

Coconino Humane Association
3501 East Butler Ave.
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001


Shelter Stories


Emergency Animal Response – 2011 Wallow Fire
By Michelle Ryan

June 2011 brought the residents of Northern Arizona a lot of Red Flag Days and Fire Danger. The Flagstaff area was fortunate not be directly affected by the fire conditions that year but that was not so for some of our neighboring communities. The Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona blew up swiftly to gigantic proportions. Thousands of people and their animal friends had to evacuate quickly from several communities.

The Coconino Humane Association was activated by the Arizona Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and asked to respond to the need for animal sheltering for the animal evacuees. This became the largest animal evacuation in Arizona State history.

CHA was asked to help keep track of and account for over 500 animals that had been evacuated from homes, ranches, and communities to the Apache County Fairgrounds. The animals that had been evacuated were a mixture of beloved family pets like dogs, cats, rabbits and a bird, working animals like horses, and a huge number of livestock. Each species required its own special standard of care and unique diets.

For security and the protection of each person’s pets and livestock, each animal was marked with special collars & tags whose numbers corresponded with kennel card numbers and the master list of animal/owner information. This was done to ensure that all animals were properly identified, tracked, and returned to their proper owners.

The animals were in amazingly great condition for the situation in which they found themselves. For the first two days that we were at the emergency shelter located at the Apache County Fairgrounds we coordinated volunteer veterinarians to come in to provide emergency medical care for the ill and injured. There were animals with upper respiratory problems from the smoke. There were animals with bruising, and lacerations. There was one pregnant guinea pig that went into pre-term labor, most likely due to stress. We transported one sweet dog to the alternate evacuation point in Show Low to be kept under 24 hour observation by the Arizona Humane Society veterinarian after it was determined that she had ruptured her spleen in a fatality rollover accident. She was picked up, after recovery, by the owner’s family.

We spent more than two full days giving core vaccinations plus rabies shots to over 150 head of horses, 60 dogs, and nearly 90 cats to help boost their immune systems and to help prevent the spread of disease in our make shift animal shelter.

The generosity of people was amazing to see. Tons of dog and cat chow, truckloads of hay and feed, and trailer loads of medications, cat litter, and pet supplies were donated to the emergency shelter. People came from all over Arizona and the surrounding states to volunteer their time and experience. People opened their hearts and wallets and gave thoughtfully and generously to the animals' care!

After seven days and the approval for the residents of Springerville and Eager to return home ADEM released us. We packed up our emergency response equipment, said goodbye to the new friends we made and came home. It was a very gratifying experience for our shelter to assist in the coordination of the care and return home of the animals affected by the Wallow Fire.


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