Happy endings

If you were out of town for the July 4 holiday and didn’t grab a copy of last week’s CN&R, you missed our annual Pet Issue. If not, and you read about the Camp Fire cats still in need of their owners—or adoptive homes—excuse us for breaking your heart.

We published a photo essay accompanied by a short writeup on the groups caring for felines found in the burn scar. More than 2,000 animals—including dogs, birds and livestock—were rescued after the fire. However, it seems just cats—resilient creatures that they are—are still being picked up, oftentimes via traps. A handful of organizations have continued to search for and collect them over the many months. As of publication, about 100 were awaiting reunification with their people or homes with adopters.

Here’s the good news: Some of the cats featured—their sweet portraits captured by Sue Anderson of Black Cat Photography—have since been adopted. That’s true of the handsome tabby boy—The Rock, as he was called—that graced the cover of the paper; Emerald, a black female with a tipped ear; and Lola, a gray and white girl. To learn more about the remaining cats and the nonprofits helping them, search for “Nine lives in Paradise” at newsreview.com/chico.

Speaking of which, I’ve long been meaning to give an update on the sweet polydactyl I found in Paradise two days after the fire. As I wrote in our first issue after the blaze (see “Heartbreak Ridge,” Nov. 15), one of the few things that brought me comfort after bearing witness to the devastation was picking up a black cat amid the ashes on Sawmill Road.

Aside from emergency personnel, utility workers and public safety folks, journalists were the only people allowed in the region at the time. So, when I wasn’t reporting or taking photos, I kept my eyes peeled for ailing pets. In fact, the CN&R’s Meredith J. Cooper and I spent the first month or so trucking food and water to those left behind, including along a stretch of intact houses off South Park Drive in Magalia.

That sweet, extra-toed kitty was frightened when I scooped him up, but he calmed down while I petted him on the drive down to Chico. I dropped him at a vet clinic there, and included my contact info. He had a burn under the nape of his neck, but otherwise appeared in relatively good health.

I later spotted him on a rescue website. He’d been transferred to a facility in Redding, and the folks there eventually contacted me. I learned that his owners had lost their home and, like so many others, were having trouble finding a new place that allowed pets.

He was called Gus, the clinic told me. I couldn’t think of a better name, as it’s the same as my favorite character in my favorite book, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. I stayed in touch with the clinic and, literally months after the fire, Gus reunited with his people.

My eyes well up when I think about that one little happy ending. That may sound silly, but after eight months of this paper’s continuous coverage of the heavy stuff, I’ve learned to cling to the bright spots.

About Melissa Daugherty 75 Articles
Melissa Daugherty is an award-winning columnist and editorial writer who started her career as a higher education reporter at a daily newspaper. Daugherty spent 17 years at the CN&R, eight of them as editor-in-chief. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable is her super power.