140 animals, sanctuary threatened by wildfire

Wildfire put animal shelter in harm's way

MAYSVILLE - Just a few miles from the Croatan Wildfire, an animal sanctuary may be evacuated if the flames cross containment lines.

"We have 78 cats, 12 goats, 47 dogs and three chickens that will be coming with us," said Dr. Lynne Swanson, director at the Safe Harbor Farm Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. "We are prepared to move if necessary."

It's not unusual to see a herd of cats roaming around, or dozens of dogs unleashed within the grounds of Safe Harbor. Swanson nurses animals back to health on the property, just a few miles north of a raging wildfire.

"The fire is a scary scenario, being that we have the Croatan National Forest on two sides of our 61 acre facility," Swanson said. "If that fire line jumps over Catfish Lake Road, we need to leave."

The blaze is four miles south of Safe Harbor, consuming 21,000 acres as of Tuesday. The prospect of moving 140 animals away from the flames is challenging.

If the fire encroaches, Swanson and her animal family can not simply get up and leave. She said a plan is needed to make sure everyone is out of harm's way, safe and sound.

"We need to dismantle and move kenneling, round up goats and all the animals," Swanson said. "We need to make sure the infrastructure at their new location will keep the animals sane and happy and safe. For maybe five days or so."

All creatures in Swanson's care will head to a four acre property if the fire come close. For now, she says she's ready. All humans, cats, dogs and goats will stick together.

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