SULTAN — Joe Taylor started packing up his dogs as soon as he got the evacuation alert on Saturday. The alert, sent mistakenly to residents west of Index as the Bolt Creek wildfire raged, was retracted within a half-hour.
But the false alarm was a wake-up call for Taylor, who co-owns Pinnacle German Shepherds, a boarding and training facility northeast of Sultan. How would he move 25 dogs to safety if he really needed to flee?
“We realized, ‘Crap, this is going to be very hard to do, and we have to do this in 20 to 30 minutes,’” Taylor said. “We decided for the safety of the dogs we needed to start that process.”
Taylor is one of dozens of Sky Valley residents who evacuated their animals over the weekend when the Bolt Creek fire erupted. Many moved animals preemptively amid the unpredictable fire. Now, they are looking forward to going home as the fire gets under control.
Taylor said it took between six and seven hours to load and transport 25 dogs, including five puppies, on Saturday. Dogs were loaded into crates in horse trailers, with covers placed on crates to calm their anxiety.
The majority went to the Rosecrest Equestrian Estate in Monroe, which offered temporary space for the canines. Pinnacle German Shepherds linked up with the ranch through the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, which had a list of residents offering animal transport and shelter.
“Everybody at the ranch has been so helpful,” Taylor said.
She said it’s a good idea to “leave sooner rather than later” when moving animals.
Brooks said owners should have a to-go kit with three to five days of water, animal food, medications, cleaning and first-aid supplies. They should also have arrangements with neighbors or friends who can help transport or shelter their livestock, she added.
Brooks recently helped evacuate 750 animals from a wildfire in Southern California. She said residents in Western Washington should start to prepare for the threat of serious wildfires here.
It took all day Saturday for Kerry Phraner to round up her goats at her home in Index.
One goat, strong and fast, evaded five people and a lasso, Phraner said. They were forced to leave him behind. She took her three other goats, George, Little Man and Castro, to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, which had opened space for evacuated animals. Phraner stayed at her daughter’s home in Gold Bar.
“I don’t know what I’d do without (the fairgrounds),” she said.
As many as 54 horses took refuge this week at the fairgrounds, where groups supplied hay and bedding. Many headed home on Wednesday after a stressful five days.
Taylor said Pinnacle German Shepherds trains medical, police and military dogs, who are “holding up pretty well.” But it has been difficult for the dogs in the obedience training program whose owners are out of town.
“They have not been subjected to that amount of chaos,” he said.
Some dogs were placed with friends in Monroe for a “more home-y situation,” Taylor said.
Taylor and the business’ co-owner, Chad Hood, have been checking on dogs “around the clock,” he said. Taylor’s fiance Rebecca Cottrell stayed behind at their Sultan property with two rescue dogs who could not make the stressful move.
The group hoped to return the German shepherds home by Monday. Though evacuation orders were downgraded on Tuesday afternoon, Taylor said the group is taking it “hour by hour” out of caution.