BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — As Boulder County Sheriff’s deputies went door to door evacuating people during the Marshall Fire, many took things a step further: loading dogs, cats, birds, and even a tortoise into patrol cars, as flames closed in on homes.
In total, 50 animals were rescued by Boulder County deputies, according to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.
As of Friday, every animal turned in by animal control has been reunited with their human, according to the shelter.
“Once the first truckload of dogs came in, we knew that we were going to need all hands on deck,” Jan McHugh-Smith said.
Two of those dogs were rescued by Boulder County deputy Elizabeth Cantwell-Ray, who found them near South 76th Street and Marshall Road while evacuating homes.
“I was driving through thick, dense smoke, with flames on both sides of my vehicle,” she said. “I parked my car and saw what looked like a coyote, I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I knew that it was in distress based on the look on its face, and I knew that they needed to be rescued.”
Cantwell-Ray coaxed the dogs to her and loaded them into the back of her squad car before handing them off to animal control.
“It was terrifying, to say the least, but you get so focused on the job and the moment that you don’t really have a chance to recognize all the fear until a couple days later,” she said.
Back at the Humane Society, McHugh-Smith said they were able to move animals around to accommodate the arrival of pets.
“It was just a matter of minutes, once we noticed the enormity of this disaster,” she said. “We started getting ready right away moving animals so that we could get ready for evacuees.”
McHugh-Smith said most animals were reunited with their humans quickly. She says the facility is still helping board a number of pets whose families have been displaced by the fire.
You can find more information on how to help the shelter throughout the emergency here.