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Bend woman’s animal-detection dog reunites cats with wildfire evacuees

(Update: Adding video, interview)

'What he (Franklin) does is such a gift.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Many people in the communities of Vida and Blue River packed up their things and evacuated quickly, as the Holiday Farm Fire tore through the area in September, one of several that devastated areas of the state.

Some left their pets behind.

Katie Albright of Bend couldn't stand to be on the sidelines as the Holiday Farm Fire ravaged the towns.

"Being on Facebook, listening to the stories of tragedy, we just wanted to help," Albright told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday.

Albright, a trained missing pet recovery specialist, joined up with other volunteers to help.

"My part of the team was to go into homes where people couldn't get back to, and they had left their cats there," she said.

And to help, she had an ace up her sleeve: Her 3-year-old dachshund/beagle mix, Franklin.

Last year, Albright trained Franklin in cat detection through the Missing Animal Response Network

Albright set up a simulation at a park in Bend on Tuesday, to show us what Franklin can do.

She hid a jar of cat hair, to mimic the scent of a cat. It didn't take Franklin long to find that scent.

And near Vida, he was just as effective.

"We had a big list, limited time, so I did bring him into this very dark large house -- and he was able to find that cat in about five minutes," Albright said.

It was Franklin's first chance to do disaster work but, so far for his career, he's located five lost cats. She volunteers her services to find cats elsewhere, too.

"I mean, it's amazing,” Albright said. “Such a gift. What he does is such a gift."

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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