Photographer rescues a puppy from California wildfire; reunites it with its owner
McKinney Fire that’s been raging in California since late July has become the largest wildfire of 2022 so far. Sadly, lives have been lost of both humans and animals, and lots of damage and destruction has been done.
But kind-hearted and empathetic people make everything more bearable. One of them is photographer Jonathan Rivas of AIO Filmz, who saved a puppy and helped reconnect it with its owner. He captured the encounter on camera and returned our faith in humanity.
On 30 July early in the morning, Rivas walked through the rubble of the town of Klamath River in Siskiyou County, California. He was surveying the damage from the wildfire, when a black-and white puppy jumped in front of him. “Normally, when I’m at a wildfire and I’m surveying damages, it’s very eerie, it’s very quiet,” Rivas said in an interview with AccuWeather. “It’s just the aftermath of everything when a wildfire sweeps through. I’ve never seen anything alive in a wildfire zone after a wildfire destroys a town or a neighborhood.”
NOT FOR BROADCAST: Putting this out for the owner. Small pup, estimated to be 4 months was found roaming within the fire zone. The pup was brought back to the town of Yreka and surrendered to the Rescue Ranch Inc as suggested by fire officials. #McKinneyFire pic.twitter.com/BOnKYFu6Sc
— AIO FILMZ (@aiofilmz) July 30, 2022
But against all odds, this puppy survived. It immediately befriended Rivas, who gave it some water and took it to safety. As the fire officials advised him, the photographer brought the puppy to Rescue Ranch, an animal adoption center in the city of Yreka. Not long after that, the four-legged bundle of joy was reunited with its owner.
Rescue Ranch shared a post on Facebook, confirming that the puppy named Patches was reunited with its owner, James Benton, aka Mac. “It was an emotional moment,” Rescue Ranch writes. “Mac lost his home to the fire tornado that tore through his property.”
“He was carrying another dog to safety and thought that his dogs were following. When he got out and saw they weren’t there, he tried to go back in but the overheated air made it impossible to breathe. And so, he lost his best friend, a German shepherd and two of Patches’ siblings (he thought he had lost Patches too). Sadly, Doug, Mac’s friend (seen here in the car), also lost his dog, Loo, to the fire. She was in his Airstream when the flames came through and he couldn’t get to her.”
The photo and the description broke my heart, making me think of all the people who’ve lost their homes, loved ones, and pets in the fire. Still, there’s a bit of joy in the tragedy knowing that not everything is lost and that the good people out there will do their best to help you when it’s rough. In Mac’s case, he’ll also have his four-legged best friend by his side, even though he thought he’d lost him.
As Rescue Ranch concludes, Mac is still hoping that if Patches made it, maybe his German shepherd and the other two puppies did too. “He says that Patches was always trailing last behind them, so they might have made it out.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed! And if you have any news of the puppies or the German shepherd (he was in the 96 and Walker Bridge area), please contact Rescue Ranch.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.