Payson residents and officials have welcomed hundreds of fire refugees into the community. They also have welcomed the furry members of the refugees' families.
Shelter is being provided at the off-leash dog park, at the Ox Bow building and in foster homes for the pets fire evacuees brought with them from the Rodeo-Chediski Fire.
Specialized volunteers are on the scene with the refugee pets. Three-member teams from the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society of Arizona are caring for the animals.
The U.S. team is from Dallas, headed by Lou Guyton. She said they have taken in about 32 dogs and 28 cats.
Most of the dogs have been put in foster homes, which the Payson Humane Society is arranging. The cats needed a confined, air-conditioned space, so council member Dick Wolfe arranged for the Ox Bow building to be opened to the rescue effort for the cats, Guyton said.
The town staff began setting up the off-leash park to receive the evacuated animals Saturday morning, so it was ready when Guyton and her two crews arrived that afternoon.
They also have plenty of food, water and kennels for the animals, Guyton said.
Monday she was trying to reach her contact in Globe because she had heard the shelters in Eagar and Holbrook were filled and it might be necessary to open a similar operation at the Gila County seat.