After Fleeing Wildfires, Family Returns Home to Find Missing Dog Alive and Well
Animals| | By Robin Milling
As Northern California wildfires continued to rage, with the death toll claiming 40 lives to date throughout the wine regions’ four counties, there is one especially heartwarming story that has come out of the devastation. Since Oct. 8, thousands have had to evacuate as the fires destroyed nearly 5,700 homes and caused $1.2 billion in damages. The Weaver family was no exception. They had seconds to leave as flames engulfed their Santa Rosa, California home on October 9.
In the midst of their frenzied flight, their beloved 9-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Izzy, ran away from them. Finding Izzy — who had been missing for 36 hours — meant everything to the family. Having been denied help from the police, their son, Jack, and son-in-law ,Patrick, took it upon themselves to return to what was left of their fire-damaged property and set out on a three-mile trek to find Izzy. Their daughter, Beckyjean Widen, wrote about her parents’ horrible ordeal on Facebook, and posted a video of their search. (It has been viewed over three million times and been shared by over 22,000 visitors.) “Just a heartwarming story to share in the middle of all this devastation,” Beckyjean wrote on Facebook. “My parents woke up with flames surrounding their house in wikiup bridgeway and had seconds to get out. In the chaos of trying to escape, my parent’s dog Izzy ran from them. My mom couldn’t chase after her without risking her own life. They had to drive through walls of flames and across a burning wooden bridge to get to mark west springs road and to safety. They lost everything, but my mom was most devastated about leaving Izzy. My brother and husband were determined to try to get back to my parents property to see if by some miracle Izzy survived. They were turned away by police officers, but if you know my brother Jack or husband Patrick…neither one likes to be told no. They ended up hiking just under 3 miles to my parent’s property. “This video shows the last part of their hike up to my parent’s house. It’s a little long, but the ending is worth the watch. In the video, the pair can be heard panting as they hike up the hill before reaching the property. “I can see the vineyards. The anticipation is killing me,” Jack Weaver says in the video. As they got closer, Weaver noticed that the gate was still standing, but there was no sign of the house. “I don’t see the house. I had my hopes up. Nothing. It’s gone. There’s so much smoke I can’t show you the view,” he says. The two men began clapping and whistling, calling out for Izzy. Then out of the still smoking midst, Izzy appeared. “Izzy is here! Izzy, Izzy, come here baby! Izzy!” Weaver shouted out. “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god,” Patrick Widen said in the background, his voice cracking with emotion. Izzy jumped over a railing and bounded toward them, her tail happily wagging away as she greeted them. “Hey baby!” Weaver happily exclaimed. Aside from being covered in soot and ash, Izzy was given a perfect bill of health by their veterinarian. The family, now relieved after being reunited with Izzy, has revealed that their dog is a survivor. “She’s a miracle dog. She survived cancer twice and we don’t know where she went. But that said perhaps her thick fur helped insulate her from the fire. There was an area that was relatively unburned; just a small one and perhaps she went there. My mom was completely devastated and so was my dad. Everyone was completely low but when we found her it changed everyone’s perspective. It meant everything,” Jack Weaver told CNN. Izzy’s story has a happy ending, but at Sonoma County Animal Services, veterinarians and assistants are providing care for 64 cats and 44 dogs, almost all of them brought in from areas affected by fires. SHARE this heartwarming story with people who have been happily reunited with their missing dogs.
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