Animal rescuers on Maui have been seeing horrifically injured pets — including dogs with paws burned down to the bone — after they were pulled from the smoldering rubble of the wildfires that have killed more than 100 people.
The deadliest US wildfire in more than a century has also left hundreds of pets dead and injured, with an estimated 3,000 animals still reported missing in the epicenter in Lahaina.
“We have seen animals come through our shelter that have severe, severe burns,” said Katie Shannon of the Maui Humane Society.
“We have seen dogs that have essentially had their paws all the way burnt down to the bone from running from the fire.”
Staff treating the animals bandaged badly burned animals, including a dog wrapped from paw to hip, while others used surgical tweezers to remove debris from a pup’s paws.
Besides dogs and cats, the humane society has been caring for love birds, guinea pigs and rabbits. A chicken had both scorched claws wrapped with blue medical tape.
“We even have a pig here,” Shannon said.
Dozens of feeding stations stocked with food and water have been set throughout the incinerated town to draw terrified pets out of hiding so they can be taken to a shelter to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
Found animals are checked for identification and scanned for a microchip so owners may be contacted. The Maui Humane Society has asked that dead animals not be moved or destroyed so they can be cataloged and checked for identification.
“But this is only the beginning,” Shannon said. “People need to understand that we are in the midst of this. And, you know, there is a harsh reality to come.”
The human death toll from the wildfires, fueled by dry conditions and a remote hurricane, was raised to 106 Tuesday, but only a handful of casualties have been identified.
Maui County released the names of two victims: Lahaina residents Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79. They are the first of five who have been identified so far.
A mobile morgue unit was brought in to help identify remains with the help of coroners, pathologists and technicians that were deployed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, said Jonathan Greene, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary for response.
Greene warned that it is going to be “a very, very difficult mission” due to the number of casualties and asked for “patience.”
So far, just over a third of the burn area has been searched with cadaver dogs, Maui County said.
Families with missing relatives were being urged to provide DNA samples. So far 41 samples have been submitted, the county statement said, and 13 DNA profiles have been obtained from remains.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green warned that scores more bodies could be found.
Speaking to Hawaii News Now, Greene said that children are among the dead: “When the bodies are smaller, we know it’s a child.”
He described some of the sites being searched as “too much to share or see from just a human perspective.”
A week after the fires started, some residents remained with intermittent power, unreliable cellphone service and uncertainty over where to get assistance.
The Red Cross said 575 evacuees were spread across five shelters as of Monday. Green said thousands of people will need housing for at least 36 weeks.
He said Tuesday that some 450 hotel rooms and 1,000 Airbnb rentals were being made available. Around 2,000 homes and businesses still don’t have electricity.
President Joe Biden has come under fire for his lack of response to the disaster, and could only say Tuesday that he and first lady Jill Biden would visit “as soon as we can.”
With Post wires
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