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Marshall Fire survivor researching how to save pets

SUPERIOR, Colo. (KDVR) — A major part of the loss during the Marshall Fire has been pets and now some animal activists are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

CU Boulder has a team dedicated to researching how owners can prevent pet loss and better equip ourselves for those kinds of situations. The team estimates over 1000 pets were lost in over 700 homes.

David Crawford is the executive director of Animal Help Now, a nationwide nonprofit that helps people help injured and orphaned wildlife. He also lost his home and all of his belongings in the fire.

Crawford was able to evacuate his home with his two cats as the winds hit over 100 mph, but many of his neighbors weren’t able to get their furry companions out or had to leave them behind because they didn’t realize the severity of the situation.

“A lot of people who evacuated that day, they didn’t think they would not be coming home.” Crawford said “When I went around and knocked on doors, unbeknownst to me, I was passing by a number of houses where animals were inside, and those animals didn’t make it.”

Crawford is working with CU Boulder researchers on pet loss during the fire to develop an app, “Pet Help and Rescue” that connects neighbors to quickly and easily request help during a disaster.

Leslie Irvine with CU Boulder said, “We’re hoping that this research will help future pet loss of this kind. If we can create networks with our friends and give them permission to enter our homes when we’re not there. That’s the best bet to save our pets.”

Irvine and others are also working on research to help improve evacuation efforts. They are focused on ways to get cats to safety, which they say can be a bit more difficult than dogs.

“The dog is going to be greeting you at the door, the cat is going to be hiding under the bed,” Irvine said.

Just a small part of the grander plan of being more prepared for this kind of disaster.

“We’re doing this in honor of the Marshall Fire pets and other animals who’ve lost their lives, in the hopes that we can save lives in the future,” Crawford said.

The goal is to launch the app on iOS at the end of January and on android shortly after.

Marshall Fire survivor researching how to save pets

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