Park City family soliciting donations to help animals in California wildfires
Sue Smith and her daughter, Anna, were browsing Facebook last week at their home in Summit County when they kept coming across photographs of animals that had been caught in the wildfire that has devastated Northern California in recent weeks.
“You could see the severe burns on the animals and it was heartbreaking for us,” Anna said. “It didn’t make me feel good knowing that all of my and my family’s animals are safe and all of these good animals are lost.”
The Camp Fire in Northern California has become the deadliest and most devastating blaze in the state’s history. The fire had scorched 142,000 acres since it started Nov. 8, claiming the lives of at least 63 people, with more than 600 still missing. Thousands have been evacuated and countless homes and structures have been destroyed.
Social media has been flooded with reports and photos of animals displaced by the wildfire, with many displaying injuries sustained in the blaze.
The Smiths immediately decided they wanted to do something to help the animals who were separated from their owners, as well as the families that lost everything except for their pets.
-Gas cards for volunteers
-Water buckets for livestock
-Feed bowls for pets, dog and cat food
-Halters and lead ropes
-Grain for livestock
-Dog and cat beds and toys
-Shavings (bedding for animals)
-Vet supplies such as: vet wrap, antibacterial spray, gauze
-Electrolytes for all animals
-Saddles and saddle pads
They turned their barn into a donation area, collecting items such as feed bowls, grain for livestock, horse blankets and saddles. From there, the effort has grown.
“It was seeing the reaction of the victims on TV who had lost everything,” Smith said. “The loss of life between humans and animals, it was too much to bear. Seeing the animals who are burned, scared and confused. It was Anna who propelled me forward.”
Smith described Anna, who is 11, as the animal lover of the family. But, she said her other two children, Bo and Kate, were just as willing to lend their help.
“I was tickled that they wanted to do this and all three of them said they couldn’t think of a better way to spend Thanksgiving,” she said. “They posted our flier to Instagram and we have had our friends and neighbors share it on their social media. It has just been blasted out there, with veterinarians in Salt Lake getting involved and people all over.”
Smith, along with her three children and husband, Summit County Deputy Sheriff Frank Smith, plans on taking the items to California on Tuesday and will be accepting donations through that day.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to lend a stock trailer for the trip. Items will be accepted between 3 and 5 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Summit County Sheriff’s Office parking lot. Monetary donations can also be made for supplies through Summit County Feed and Pet Supply Store, 6440 N. Business Loop Road.
“Our whole community has answered this call and it has been absolutely overwhelming,” Smith said.
Bo, a 12-year-old at Ecker Hill Middle School, said it’s unfair how the animals have suffered as a result of the fires. He said he can’t imagine what Californians are experiencing.
“I feel bad,” he said. “We want to give things to all of the animals and people so they can take care of them and help them. I think it’s good. I mean the whole point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks and spend time with family.”
Smith said Bo asked her why they are collecting items for the animals and not people.
“We have four dogs and three horses at home,” she said. “And I told him, ‘What if we were at work and they were at school and there was a fire and we couldn’t get to them or check on them?’ They knew how worried they would be and I told them it was just one little thing that we can do to take that worry away from people as they begin the process of rebuilding.”
Smith is reluctant to have the spotlight on her family. She prefers the focus be on the generosity of her neighbors and the local businesses that have stepped up to help.
“We are just the ride for everyone else’s generosity,” she said.
If anyone is interested in donating supplies, they can contact Smith at 435-640-8662.
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The man was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized at the time of his death.