The Fire Cats: Documentary highlights animal rescue groups that saved hundreds of pets in 2018 Camp Fire
PARADISE — A local cat rescue group that stepped up to save hundreds of cats from the catastrophic Camp Fire was profiled in an award-winning documentary.
The 2018 Camp Fire near the town of Paradise is California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record.
As residents rushed to evacuate, thousands of pets were left behind. Now, a feature-length documentary is recognizing the efforts of animal rescue groups that go into fire zones and save stranded pets.
"The intent of the film is to showcase what we did," said Joy Smith.
Smith is the founder of Field Haven Feline Center and is one of the rescuers profiled in the movie.
"We set up a shelter up there and lived in an RV for five or six months," she said.
She said one of the most emotional moments in the film shows a pet being reunited with its owner.
"There's nothing more heartwarming than watching a teenage boy sobbing, finding his cat, and there was so many reunions like that," Smith said.
Sadly, some of the animal owners were among the 85 people who died. Kate Spear adopted one of the rescued cats whose owner was never identified.
"She had a lot of trauma, PTSD when I brought her home, but it's been so gratifying over the years to watch her relax and get much more comfortable," she said.
The nonprofit group spent more than $100,000 during the Camp Fire rescue efforts. They're now using this film as a fundraiser by showing it to a sold-out crowd in Rocklin to raise money for their shelter.
"This film has been winning awards all over the world," Smith said.
Donations allowed the rescuers to purchase a new mobile vet clinic.
"It has everything that we need in going out to a disaster to start giving care to animals," Smith said.
Rescuers said a lot has been learned since the Camp Fire response. Their biggest recommendation is for animal owners to microchip their pets.
"If they have a microchip, we can reunite them instantly, and that happened too few times," Smith said.
You can check out the documentary Tuesday at the Rocklin Century Theater. It'll play twice along with a fundraiser and raffle in the parking lot beginning at 1:30 p.m.
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