Eileen Ebey lost nearly all she owned when her house was flooded to the roof. But worry melted from her face Saturday when she heard the familiar barks and yelps of Pax, her German shepherd.
"You are a lucky dog, yes you are," Ebey cooed after she and Pax were reunited at a temporary animal shelter.Ebey and her roommate, Nona Quigg, were on a business trip when a levee burst and the Feather River submerged their home in Marysville, north of Sacramento.
They later saw television newscasts of the water lapping their roof - and a rescue boat with a German shepherd that looked a lot like Pax.
The animal shelter at the Placer County Fairgrounds was set up with the help of United Animal Nations, a Sacramento-based organization that has responded to disasters across the country since 1988.
On Saturday, the nonprofit group sent out six rescue teams in boats to try to recover stranded animals near the twin cities of Yuba City and Marysville.
Countless animals have been trapped by floodwaters. There were reports of cows and horses caught against fences. Dogs clambered onto roofs and cats climbed up trees.
In one dramatic rescue Friday, a TV helicopter plucked a dog named Rodeo from a roof in Olivehurst. The dog was later reunited with its owner.
Wildlife was also affected. Deer were seen at midday standing beside a Feather River levee road. Coyotes ran nearby. Rats swam through flooded towns.
Most evacuation centers for the tens of thousands of people forced from their homes had no room for domestic animals. Many people kept their dogs, cats and other small pets in their cars and trucks.
Permanent animal shelters in Sacramento filled up quickly.
Without the creation of the temporary shelter, there would be no place to take rescued animals, said Terri Crisp, United Animal Nations' director of disaster relief services.
By Saturday, 125 were animals at the shelter. Crisp said she expects to house more than 1,000 creatures by the end of the week.
Most of the animals were in good shape, except for a few cuts and bruises, said Heidi Burpee, a veterinary technician from Sacramento working at the shelter.
She said many animals were suffering from "a lot of stress" from missing their owners. "But they're getting a lot of attention here."
"In the next few days as the water goes down, we're going to have to start dealing with dead animals," Crisp said. "There's going to be lot of that out there. Whole herds of cattle have drowned."
On Saturday, Bruce and Andi Moncher of Yuba City brought their three dogs, four cats, one miniature horse, and 10 pygmy goats - four of them pregnant - to the shelter.