Shelters near forest fires overrun with animals

LAS VEGAS, NM (KRQE) — As wildfires continue to burn across the state, animal shelters are overrun with animals seeking to escape the flames. “People found they had to evacuate and the animals were nowhere to be found,” said Bea Gallegos, of the Animal Welfare Coalition of northeast New Mexico.

A few miles from the shelter, the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon wildfire continues, forcing
people to leave their homes and get to safety at all times and for some that means their pets have to leave too. “Make sure everything you need for your pet is immediately ready to go if you have to go,” Gallegos said.

It’s an equally stressful situation for animals trying to get to safety. “With all the chaos, animals kinda squeeze through doors or get out of people quite easily,” Gallegos said.

Some of these animals end up at Animal Welfare. “We’ve had a few that are scared, maybe they have an owner, maybe they’ve been running around there for who knows how long and they’ve finally just come out,” Gallegos said.

Stretching already thin resources even thinner. “We’ve probably been way over capacity for over a year now,” Gallegos said. As the fire grows and the winds change course, the shelter is trying to prepare for even more evacuations.

“We really pride ourselves on being able to find as many animal homes as possible, so we’re doing what we can to house incoming animals,” Gallegos said.

Trying to get as many pets back to their original owners in all the chaos. “We tried to post on Facebook where the animals were found, we had a few that managed to find their owners but we still have about 10 that haven’t found their owners,” Gallegos said.

She hopes all other pet owners will take note of what to do in case they have to evacuate next. “I highly recommend that people get their pets microchipped, it’s the easiest way for us to find owners,” Gallegos said.