Amid an enormous wildfire that has been named the Black Forest fire, north of Colorado Springs, Colo., one local family is again housing small pets at their boarding kennels at no charge.
Doug and Michaelanne Johnson and their son Colton, along with his wife Heather, own the Sunrise and Woodmen Kennels in Northeast Colorado Springs, just south of the area where the fires are burning. As they did during last year’s Waldo Canyon fires, the Johnsons have accepted small pets from those who have been forced to evacuate due to the fire. So far they have taken in dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds and other small pets for approximately 70 families, and as of midday Thursday the kennels were at capacity.
More than 38,000 people have been evacuated, according to Reuters, and 360 homes have been destroyed by the fire, which began on Tuesday. The blaze covers about 15,000 acres, and the evacuation zone now stretches over 94,000 acres, according to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. About 50 miles to the southwest, the Royal Gorge fire, which also began Tuesday, has burned approximately 3,100 acres and forced the evacuation of 900 prisoners from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility outside Canon City.
The Johnson family is well known in the sport of dogs for their Bugaboo Old English Sheepdogs and Rocheuse Bouvier des Flandres. Because the family is not charging the owners of evacuated animals, the cost of feeding all of the pets is of concern. Donations of pet food are being accepted at the kennels at 740 Dublin Blvd. and 780 Dublin Blvd. in Colorado Springs. Cash donations can be sent using a credit or debit card or bank account through PayPal by going to www.paypal.com and using firstname.lastname@example.org as the recipient’s email address. For more information call 719-598-0802 or 719-598-8220.
Strong winds have caused the blaze to spread, and overnight it became the most destructive in the state’s history. Maketa said that firefighters are working to save homes on the west and northwest flanks of the fire.