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Animal rescue group steps up during Swedes Fire

Published On: Aug 20 2013 08:55:00 PM CDT
Animal rescue group steps up during Swedes Fire
OROVILLE, Calif. -

As people return home after being evacuated from the path of the Swedes Fire so do animals, and many are grateful the North Valley Animal Disaster Group--or NAVDAG--came to their rescue

Ella Eager is one of the NAVDAG volunteers that takes care of large animals evacuated when disasters strike and she's proud of what she does.

"I tell people it's the best job i've ever had," she says. "It's the most fulfilling job i've ever had."

She says what her group does gives evacuees peace of mind.

"We're able to say to the people, 'We'll take care of your animals, now you go take care of you,' Eager says, "because that's what they need to know, that these guys are safe. They're going to be out of harm's way and they're going to be fed a couple times a day, they're going to get fresh water every day. They're going to be loved over, groomed, talked to."

And for some 20 horses, 30 goats and 12 chickens that's the kind of attention they received when the Swedes Fire struck southeast of Oroville Friday afternoon.

Camelot on Clark Road in Oroville opened their gates and made room for the animal evacuees, and some of their owners didn't even know about the group until it mattered most.

"I had no idea they even existed until a friend of mine told me," says Mary Kissee, who's home on Hurleton Swedes Flat Road was evacuated Saturday.

But Kissee soon learned who the group of volunteers is when they came running to the rescue.

"They were so fast," Kissee says. "I mean, they came out and said, 'You have 13 minutes to get out,' and I said, 'I am not leaving without my horses.' It was bad enough I left my goats and my sheep, but I was not leaving my horses."

Eager gets that and it's for that exact reason that NAVDAG exists.

"Sometimes I think that people, you know like myself, probably wait until the last minute and then they're stressed," Eager says. "They're close to behind the fire lines or they're in an evac situation and they grab whatever they can. And even though they want to take all of their dogs, cats, chickens, horses, goats, they can't take them all in one trip so then "navdag" goes in.

And while NAVDAG gives animals a temporary home, Kissee says there's really no place like home.

"When kids are disrupted like this they need to feel secure, and they don't feel secure in a strange place."

And now that all evacuations have been lifted humans and animals are reunited.

"I miss my horses," Kissee says as she prepares to load up her horses and take them home. "Looking out in the pasture and not seeing my horses is like pulling teeth for me, you know? It hurts. I am so excited. these are my babies."

NAVDAG is an all volunteer group and they say they spent about $5,000 rescuing animals during the swedes fire.

If you'd like to join the group and volunteer or want to help them out in any way, click here.