A dog feared to be lost after the devastating wildfires in California has been reunited with its family 101 days later.
The dog, a 12-year-old Akita named Kingston, jumped out of his family’s truck as they fled the area and drove away from the wildfires in the town of Paradise, in November last year.
The Ballejos family, however, never gave up hope to find their beloved dog, posting flyers around the town and contacting local shelters.
Gabriel Ballejos told Sacramento TV station KXTV, via HuffPost:
When I found out, [it] just about brought me to tears. I’m so proud of him. I can’t believe it. He’s a true survivor, and it’s a testament to the American spirit.
The family never stopped searching for Kingston, especially daughter Maleah, who would tell her dad every night that they needed to go out and look for him.
Fate was on their side however, when animal rescue volunteer Ben Lepe found Kingston and brought him to local rescue group Friends of Camp Fire Cats. The volunteers there had seen the Ballejos’ missing dog message on Facebook, and got in touch with the family.
This is what it’s all about! ❤️
The Ballejos family has their beloved dog named Kingston back, 101 days after the #CampFire
— Madison Meyer (@madisonmeyer) February 19, 2019
Ben said the dog had been spotted on surveillance cameras in the area, so he set up a trap in order to safely catch Kingston and bring him to the shelter.
When I went to check [the trap] on Sunday, there he was. It was awesome to see him and know he would be fed and warm.
The family and Kingston’s rescuers believe he had survived since the wildfires by eating skunks, as he apparently used to hunt them, and smelled of skunk when he was picked up.
The Ballejos family, who evacuated their home after the Camp Fire, believes their dog Kingston survived on his own by eating skunks. pic.twitter.com/lVHhqpBB5H
— Dose (@dose) February 21, 2019
Angel Herrera, of Friends of Camp Fire Cats, said the group has rescued more than 200 lost pets since last year’s wildfires, but are still finding more and more animals. She added: ‘If we had the resources, we could trap 50 animals every single night’.
The town of Paradise, among with others in the area, was devastated by the wildfires in November last year. 85 people tragically lost their lives, while around 15,000 homes were destroyed.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.