Fairgrounds ‘a petting zoo’ of Plateau Fire evacuees

Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 4:57 PM
About 45 alpacas, 25 goats, and a flock of geese have been moved to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds to escape the threatening Plateau Fire north of Dolores. The fairgrounds is offering free boarding for animals in the pre-evacuation area on Granath Mesa.
Alpacas evacuated from the oncoming Plateau Fire check out their temporary new digs at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.
Kelly McAndrews/Courtesy photo

Kelly McAndrews and her daughter Willa Rice loaded up more than 40 alpacas from Critter Mountain Ranch north of Dolores and took them Thursday to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, where a crew awaited them. "I told them, 'You boys are going straight to heaven,'" she said.

The fair is over, but animals returned to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds last week as evacuees of the threatening Plateau Fire north of Dolores.

About 45 alpacas, 25 goats, some chickens and a flock of geese were taking refuge at the fairgrounds on Friday, said employee Larry Copeland.

“We’re glad to help and have room for more,” he said. “It’s like a petting zoo down there.”

The animals are from residences of rural Granath Mesa, north of Dolores, which went under a pre-evacuation order on Tuesday. The expanding wildfire was just a few miles from private property, homes and ranches.

The evacuated animals were being housed in corrals and barns at no charge and were being provided water. Owners were responsible for feeding them. Staff also prepared for the arrival of more animals if the evacuation became mandatory.

“Having a safe place to store your animals in an emergency is a big relief for people,” Copeland said.

The Cortez Animal Shelter also offered free boarding for dogs and cats from the pre-evacuation area, said kennel technician Abigail Smith, but Friday, had no takers.

“We have made room, and will take good care of them just as we do all of our animals,” she said.

The La Plata County Humane Society took in some of the cats from the Cortez shelter to free up kennel cages for pet evacuees from the Plateau Fire, she said. Surrendered animals were not taken at the Cortez shelter to allow room for potential pet evacuees from the fire.

For more information about services offered at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, call 970-759-1795.

The Cortez Animal Shelter’s number is 970-565-4910.