Oregon sanctuaries race to evacuate scores of animals


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Many people took their animals with them when they evacuated their homes or farms as wildfires charged forward in Marion County. However, the staff and volunteers at Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary were tasked with the transportation of 62 cats when they had to evacuate from Scotts Mills.

Through the combined efforts of volunteers and staff members, the animals were first evacuated to Molalla the day after Labor Day. When the Beachie Creek Fire again got too close, the cats had to be moved to West Salem before then being moved a third time to safety outside any evacuation zone, according to a volunteer and former staff member.

The final leg of their enduring journey came at the end of the week on Sept. 11, when the largest cats—14 of the 62— were transported roughly 160 miles south to Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. with the help of moving company Two Men and a Truck. The big cats included lions, cougars, cheetahs—plus two well-known tigers who were featured on the Animal Planet show “Surviving Joe Exotic.”

The smaller cats from Wildcat Ridge stayed behind in the barn a local farm owner had volunteered for use and remain in the care of staff.

Out to Pasture Animals

Founders of the Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary scrambled to evacuate 150 of their animals from Estacada as the Riverside Fire burned only 1,000 feet away from the property last week.

The sanctuary takes animals that have no place to go. On Tuesday night, Sept. 8, they had to evacuate with no notice. They made a post on social media asking for help, and their community did not disappoint.

Out to Pasture founder Kit Collins said people showed up with trailers and others offered to give the animals a safe place to stay. 

“We were up all night loading up pig, goats and sheep,” Collins said. 

The sanctuary plans to wait for evacuation levels to be reduced before moving the animals back. 

“The fire is still pretty close to Estacada and we hope it continues to be contained,” said founder John Collins. 

The founders said people have been incredibly generous and they don’t need any more help at this time. They’re asking people to instead donate to other organizations in need like the Red Cross.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to properly attribute the evacuation efforts of the cats to the staff and volunteers Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary, who first evacuated the animals to Molalla, then again two more times. Two Men and a Truck moving company was involved in the transportation of 14 large cats from the last evacuation site to Winston.

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