Displaced Animals Bask In Rim Country Hospitality


Refugee livestock from the communities evacuated by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire has found shelter in Payson.

More than 125 head of livestock have been evacuated and more is expected as smoke from the fire moves into other shelters at Holbrook and Concho.

Animals receiving shelter from the fire include: horses, goats, burros, rabbits, chickens, llamas, sheep, turkeys, pigs, cattle and geese, according to Charlene Hunt, Payson Event Center coordinator with the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

Most of the horses are at the event center, while the other animals have been taken into foster homes.

Safety concerns for the public, and the animals, forced the closure of the center to visits by residents of the area, Hunt said.

When the animals began arriving, the generous residents of Payson started coming to the event center to see them, with some bringing apples and carrots to treat the evacuees.

Owners of the animals have expressed much appreciation for the gesture, but because many of the four-legged refugees have special dietary needs and the strange circumstances may cause unpredictable behavior, it has been decided to end public visitation, Hunt said.

The shelter service is being made possible by a multitude of donations from all over the state, Hunt said.

Hundreds of people, equestrian groups, feed stores, hay brokers and others have sent feed, grain and veterinary supplies to help care for the evacuated livestock.

Hunt said American Fence of Mesa supplied enough portable shade to cover the corrals housing six refugee Percherons.

Numerous metropolitan Phoenix residents also have offered foster care for the animals, but because they are not acclimated to the high temperatures, they will be kept in Payson, Hunt said.

For more information, call Hunt at 474-5242, ext. 7.

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