Camp Fire Response

From Dr. Sarah: My work with the Camp Fire impacted animals began immediately after the fire and continues to this day. Hundreds of animals were left at the emergency animal shelters as people fled the Camp Fire and then navigated through the horrendous aftermath. Hundreds more were picked up as “strays” while they were fleeing or caught in the fire. In total, more than 2,000 animals – mostly dogs and cats – were housed in the emergency animal shelters. The recovery from this tragic fire will be long and the animal needs continue.

In the days immediately after the fire, I was contacted by NVADG (North Valley Animal Disaster Group) and asked if I could put together an A-team to help out with Del Oro animal emergency shelter. That call came at 7pm and by 7am the next morning, I had arranged for ten of my staff and friends (all friends were previous volunteers from the Oroville Dam evacuation in 2017) to be on duty at Del Oro to assist during this time of chaos and crisis. For the duration of time the emergency animal shelters were open (through early January 2014), The Canine Connection continued to collect and deliver needed supplies for the Del Oro shelter, sending out calls to our generous clients for needed supplies and delivering their donations on a daily or weekly basis. We were immersed in helping. Many of those friends I initially called on stayed involved with the shelters until they officially closed in early January. Our clients, our friends were generous beyond measure with donations of time, money, and goods.

I was then asked to assist at the second (of what came to be three) animal emergency shelters, the Chico Airport shelter, where there were some dogs that were hard to handle and needed special care. With a team of extremely dedicated volunteers, I helped care for what became known as the “Airport Dogs.” These were the dogs that did/do not have identified owners and so were awaiting, for many weeks and for some, months, some kind of decision about their fate. In late January 2019, the “Airport Dogs” that had not been claimed were released to area shelters (Chico Animal Shelter, Paradise Animal Shelter, Northwest SPCA) where they could be adopted or (if needing medical or other care prior to adoption) fostered. I continued to help with their care and am currently fostering one of those fire refugees, Rudy, who had severe separation anxiety and medical needs. I am also fostering a relinquished Camp Fire dog, named Woody, whose owner was, sadly, unable to reclaim him after the fire since they had no place to live.

Click HERE to see a short clip of television coverage of some of the “Airport Dogs,” including Rudy, at at the end of their lengthy shelter stay.

Camp Fire Foster Animal Connection

By the second week following the fire, it was clear that the animal emergency shelter situation was like none other. While hundreds of people had left their pets at the shelter when fleeing the fire, the massive loss of homes and the uninhabitable environment even for those whose homes were left standing meant that it was going to be a very long time before people would be able to be reunited with their pets. Again, I was called on by NVADG and asked if I would set up a foster network system so that those needing foster homes for their animals could connect with those people willing to foster. Because of the urgency involved, it seemed that the creation of closed Facebook group would be the fastest and easiest way for people to connect with one another. Within weeks, over 4,000 people had joined the group and many foster connections were made. Months after the fire, the group is still active as new homes are needed for fostering and some animals are now needing permanent adoption. Please join our Facebook group HERE. There is still a need for fostering and adopting Camp Fire impacted pets. Work is currently underway to develop a more permanent database of animal foster guardians so that this group can be activated in the event of a future emergency. Let’s hope we never need to draw on it.

No-Cost Microchip Clinics

My work in the animal emergency shelters during the Camp Fire crisis and recovery made one thing abundantly clear: MICROCHIPS ARE THE KEY TO REUNITING SEPARATED PEOPLE AND PETS! Sadly, it was the exception rather than the rule to find an unclaimed Camp Fire animal with a microchip, and most of the animals that had been microchipped had not had the contact information for their humans updated. So sad! so frustrating! So when the emergency animal shelters closed, my mission became to get every companion dog and cat in Butte County microchipped!! 

Friends of the Chico Animal Shelter (FOCAS) jumped on board with the idea to hold no-cost (FREE!) micro-chip clinics. As our partner, they applied for a grant from North Valley Community Foundation to purchase 1,000 microchips. In May 2019, the first of our Microchip Clinics was  held at The Canine Connection. What a success! Over 40 volunteers came out to help with the logistics of managing pets, people, parking, paperwork, and the microchipping procedure. And by the end of the day, 344 dogs and cats had been chipped AND our data enterers had input the contact information for their owners since the only good chip is a registered chip!

Stay tuned…planning for our next No-C0st Microchip Clinic is in the works. And check out the media coverage about this awesome event HERE and HERE!


Therapy Dog Squad

Do you have a well-behaved dog or other domestic animal that connects with people through its soothing spirit and cheerful demeanor? Would you enjoy the service of lifting up others who may be missing the presence of a beloved pet? If so, you and your pet may be candidates for our Canine Connection Therapy Dog Squad (which also includes a couple of cats!).

Our Therapy Dog Squad is comprised of people and their pets who have successfully completed all requirements to become Pet Partner volunteers. Pet Partners is an international organization that adheres to the highest standards when it comes to therapy pet evaluation and registration. As a licensed evaluator for Pet Partners since 2005, Dr. Sarah holds frequent evaluations for potential Pet Partner teams (a team is the person and animal that are evaluated together). She also offers a therapy dog prep class to help those intending to take the Pet Partner evaluation understand and prepare for the evaluation.

Members of The Canine Connection Therapy Dog Squad visit the Chico State campus several times a month along with area assisted living facilities, schools, and other venues where people will benefit from the soothing, happy, healing power of pets.

For further information about becoming a Pet Partner, please visit their website HERE. Please note that there are numerous steps involved in becoming a Pet Partner, with the team evaluation being the culminating step.

For further information about our Therapy Dog Prep Class, click HERE. Please note that this class is NOT required prior to taking the evaluation. It is offered simply to help those wanting some assistance with preparation and opportunity to become more familiar with and practice the elements of the test. All dogs enrolled in the class must have already learned basic manners and behaviors prior to taking the class. If assistance is needed with building this foundation, we recommend Adult 1 and 2.

Walk Woof Wag

We have SO much to add to this page and it is under construction. Stop back soon!


Over $55,000 raised for Chico Animal Shelter through our annual fundraiser, Walk Woof Wag!

Over $30,000 raised for Butte Humane Society through out Bidwell Bark Team, 2011-2013 Thank you to all who joined our team!


Foster Dogs Needing Homes


Camp Fire Woody…


Camp Fire Rudy…..


Annie came to me during the Oroville dam evacuation….