Pets Found After California Campfire


Photo taken by Shayla Sullivan, the owner of Madison.

Karyna Hetman

 It seems that all the stories we hear from the news are sad and hopeless, but this story however, has a happy ending. A tragic camp fire in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, was said to have “burned 153,336 acres across Butte County from November 8 to November 25 and destroyed 13,972 residences and 4,821 buildings.” Many families had to flee their homes to protect themselves and their families, leaving behind beloved pets. Not being able to bear a life without their dogs and cats they hold close to their hearts, many victims of this deadly fire had a sweet surprise after returning to their homes.

The Gaylord family, in particular, had to quickly evacuate once the fire spread to their house. They had two Anatolian Shepherd mixes, one named Madison and the other Miguel. The dogs were left behind as the family could not go back to their burning house to save them. The one dog, Miguel, was picked up by a rescue volunteer, Shayla Sullivan, but Madison was still yet to be found. Sullivan persistently searched around Madison’s owner’s house, leaving food and water, but still could not find Madison. The family was devastated as they accepted the idea that Madison had probably gotten caught in the fire. The Gaylord family was allowed to travel back to their home about a month after the fire, once it had cleared up. The family looked at the barren land where their house used to be, and were greeted by Madison who had come back to the house to protect its grounds even after the family had left. The family felt so much joy and relief that their dog had survived the deadly campfire and had come back to their home. “Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting.  It was so emotional,” Andrea Gaylord, Madison’s owner, had said upon finding her dog whom she had believed was dead.

Vanessa Rhodes and her husband, Stephan Cobb, had to flee their house when the fire reached their home as well. They had two cats, one who had gotten in the car in time for evacuation, but the other, Bella, ran away and couldn’t be found before they were about to leave. After assuming Bella was dead, Rhodes got a call from volunteers informing her that Bella, was at her house, curled up in a ball, asleep. There are many more heartwarming stories the same as this one about people reuniting with lost pests, with special help from Carr Fire Pet Rescue and and Reunification, that has reunited over 80 families with their pets that were left home  in the fire. “We’ve seen amazing things. We’re finding cats that were in a house and the owners presumed they had passed. The heat of fire breaks windows in houses and cats jump out and run and hide. They’re survivalists,” Robin Bray, a field coordinator for the Carr Fire group, said about his amazing work with the charitable organization.

It is heartwarming to hear that good things have come in return to families who had been grieving over the loss of their houses and most prized, memory filled possessions. This light at the end of the tunnel was just what many California residents needed after this traumatic event, and a nice sentimental story that reminds us that gruesome stories can have happy endings.