From horses to bunnies, mission underway to rescue pets in lava-ravaged zones
HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - When eruptions started in Leilani Estates, many had just minutes to flee their homes.
And some were forced to leave their pets behind.
So the community went on a rescue mission to retrieve animals that many consider members of the family and a source of comfort during times of crisis.
Kristin Heid and her daughter, Camila Luquin, have 17 horses at the Panaewa Equestrian Center in Hilo after fleeing their home above Leilani Estates.
Besides horses, they trucked out practically an entire farm.
"It was just kind of a massive exodus. We got the horses out first. We have about 45 head of cattle. So we worked on those the next two days and 75 head of sheep and goat," said evacuee Kristin Heid.
The horses at the equestrian center have been nicknamed the "Lava Horses" and each comes with a special placard and GoFundMe account for their care.
"It's good that we got all the horses out. It was sad that we had to leave so fast, but it was really good that we got all the animals back," Luquin said.
Adam Periera, manager of the Hawaii Island Humane Society, said it was surreal to venture into Leilani Estates to look for lost animals on a list given to him by residents.
"There was a lot of noises, the sulfur, you definitely can taste it," said Periera.
For the animals he couldn't find, he left food and water, but he was able to reunite one family with their four dogs.
"I was happy to see that they were very happy. They had their kids. They were just so happy to be reunited with their pets," said Periera.
The Welch family found their pet rabbit after five days.
"So we started unloading the house and all of a sudden I said, 'the bunny,' said evacuee Stacy Welch.
Now, the bunny, their two dogs and a goose are staying with them at the pet friend shelter at the Pahoa Community Center.
"Now that I have all my animals. I'm a little bit more at peace," said Welch's daughter, Maddy.
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