Animal rescuers on Maui have seen horribly injured pets – including dogs with paws burned to the bone – after they were pulled from the smoldering debris of the wildfires that have killed more than 100 people.
The deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century has also killed and injured hundreds of domestic animals. An estimated 3,000 animals are still reported missing at the epicenter in Lahaina.
“We’ve seen animals that came through our shelter with severe, severe burns,” said Katie Shannon of the Maui Humane Society.
“We’ve seen dogs with their paws practically burned to the bone from escaping the fire.”
Staff treating the animals bandaged badly burned animals, including one dog, who was wrapped paw to waist, while others used surgical forceps to remove dirt from a puppy’s paws.
In addition to dogs and cats, the Humane Society also cares for lovebirds, guinea pigs and rabbits. One chicken had both burned claws wrapped in blue medical tape.
“We even have a pig here,” Shannon said.
Dozens of feeding stations with food and water have been set up across the burned city to lure frightened pets out of hiding so they can be taken to an animal shelter where they can be treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
Any animals found will be checked for identification and scanned for a microchip so owners can be contacted. The Maui Humane Society has requested that dead animals not be moved or destroyed so that they can be cataloged and checked for identification.
“But that’s just the beginning,” Shannon said. “People need to understand that we are in the middle of this situation. And, you know, there’s a harsh reality coming.”
The death toll from the wildfires, fueled by dry conditions and a distant hurricane, rose to 106 on Tuesday, but only a handful of victims 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 identified so far.
A mobile morgue unit was deployed to help identify remains with the help of coroners, pathologists and technicians deployed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, said Jonathan Greene, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary of response.
Greene warned that it would be “a very, very difficult mission” due to the number of casualties and asked for “patience.”
So far, a little more than a third of the burned area has been searched with cadaver dogs, Maui County said.
Families with missing loved ones have been asked 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 Gov. Josh Green warned numerous more bodies could be found.
Speaking to Hawaii News Now, Greene said children were among the dead: “If the bodies are smaller, we know it’s a child.”
He described some of the sites searched as “too much to share or see just from a human perspective.”
A week into the fires, some residents were suffering from disrupted power, unreliable cell phone service and uncertainty about where to get help.
According to the Red Cross, 575 evacuees were spread across five emergency shelters on Monday. Green said thousands of people would need shelter for at least 36 weeks.
He said Tuesday about 450 hotel rooms and 1,000 Airbnb rentals would be made available. Around 2,000 households and businesses still have no electricity.
President Joe Biden has come under criticism for his lack of response to the disaster and could only say on Tuesday that he and first lady Jill Biden would visit “as soon as we can.”
With post wires