The fair is over, but animals are returning to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds as evacuees of the threatening Plateau Fire north of Dolores.
About 45 alpacas, 25 goats, some chickens and a flock of geese are taking refuge at the fairgrounds, said employee Larry Copeland.
“We’re glad to help and have room for more,” he said. “It’s like a petting zoo down there.”
The animals are from residences of rural Granath Mesa, north of Dolores, which went under a pre-evacuation order Tuesday. The expanding wildfire is just a few miles from private property, homes and ranches.
The evacuated animals are being housed in corrals and barns at no charge. They are being provided water, but owners are responsible for feeding them. If the evacuation becomes mandatory, staff is expecting more animals to arrive.
“Having a safe place to store your animals in an emergency is a big relief for people,” Copeland said.
“We have made room and will take good care of them, just as we do all of our animals,” she said.
The La Plata County Humane Society in Durango took on some of the cats from the Cortez shelter to free up kennel cages for pet evacuees from the Plateau Fire, she said. Surrendered animals will not be taken at the Cortez shelter at this time to allow room for potential pet evacuees from the fire.
For evacuees in need of boarding animals at the fairgrounds, advanced notice must be given by calling 759-1795. The Cortez Animal Shelter can be reached at 565-4910.