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Donkey burned in Wall Fire gets new home

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OROVILLE, Calif. - During the Wall Fire, Dane the donkey was severely burned when his owner left him behind.

He was rescued by firefighters who had to extinguish his burning body, then turned over to animal control and the North Valley Animal Disaster Group.

"When we first saw him, it was, it was kind of heartbreaking," said Lynette Brennan, an officer with Butte County Animal Control who transported Dane from the fire lines to Look Ahead Veterinary Hospital. "He had burns all across his chest, his face, his ears, his whole back was singed, underneath his belly. "

In the two months since then, Dane has made great progress and Tuesday, he was able to go to his Chico home with new adopted mom, Paula Kaplan.

"I didn't know he was a celebrity," Kaplan laughed.

Dane will be Kaplan's first famous donkey, but this isn't the first time she's adopted a fire victim.

"He needed a home and we've adopted some animals from the fire [disasters] before," Kaplan explained. "[During] the Paradise fire, I got a wonderful Great Dane through that and I always feel like when all of these disasters happen, I always want to bring animals to my house, but I don't really know how to get them there."

It wasn't easy to get stubborn Dane there either, but the North Valley Animal Disaster Group said they have no doubt he's now in good hands.

"This is what we do, our group goes in behind fire lines, gets animals out," said Sandy Doolittle, director of the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. "Most of the time it's before they're injured, but you never know what's going to happen back there."

In the last two years, the group has deployed to eight disasters, six of which were in Butte County. Dane was one of the 452 calls they got for service during the Wall Fire alone, along with 150 large animals that needed rescuing and/or shelter.

"We try to get animals out before the fire comes, that's the best case scenario, it's the safest, and this is why we do it, and this is a great happy ending, we're so thrilled," said Doolittle.

Dane's new owner is thrilled, too. "He's a miracle donkey," Kaplan said.

The North Valley Animal Disaster Group is a nonprofit and Dane required more than $2,000 in veterinary care. Almost all of his bills were paid for with donations from the community through the group.

If you would like to donate or volunteer, visit their website here.

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