Carrie Johnen of Amador County Animal Response Team (ACART) here again to cover another lesson learned on the Camp Fire deployment. As I mentioned in my last article, I was in the thick of things for reunifications of small animals with their owners and want to share with you a couple of stories that still influence my passion today for marking your animals.

The first story involves a young woman and some ducks. I became involved with her story when she came to visit her ducks at Chico Airport. She reported seeing her ducks there two days prior, but on this day, they were not in the same spot where she saw them last. She described them to me in terms of breed and numbers. She also related they were the only animals of hers to survive; she lost all her other fur babies. From a search of the paperwork over time available on birds, I think they were brought in by a field evacuation team after the worst of the fire had passed. Then they were processed through intake by a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) not familiar with North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVDAG) intake paperwork. The paperwork did not list names or addresses of pick up for many of the birds on site. Added to that, many were in need of medical attention, requiring transfers to other sites.

On my first Saturday, I processed multiple transfers, of which I think her ducks were one. I passed on the information I discovered to others on the team to follow up, but I am not sure if she ever found her ducks or if they are living out their lives in a rescue.

The second story involves a little tuxedo cat. It was housed at Del Oro and being taken care of by the National Guard. Each guard member was in charge of a particular area and very familiar with the animals in their care. One night I escorted a couple to a building and they saw a cat they thought might be theirs. They showed us pictures and played with the cat, which seemed to respond well to them.

The Shelter Manager/Guardsman, the couple and I eventually concurred that it might be their cat. We tagged the paperwork with their name and information. They left to prepare to bring the cat back to the family. The next morning another couple arrived and viewed the same cat. They have more pictures, etc. to confirm the cat is theirs. NVDAG personnel had to make a disappointing call to the first couple to explain the situation; heartbreak that I am positive no one needed.

Both of these situations, and many more at the large and small emergency shelters, could have been alleviated by banding, branding (large animals), tattooing or chipping.

Resources are available at veterinarians and Animal Control. A Google search will provide free registries. Finally, there is facial recognition registration with Finding Rover.

Many different CERT teams answered the call to assist NVDAG in this unprecedented situation and had to assume duties familiar, and yet not, and did their very best. Join ACART so Amador County is ready! For more information, call (209) 257-4907 or visit

Carrie Johnen is a Plymouth resident and a member of the Amador County Animal Response Team.