Bay Area air quality: Ranch owners resort to oxygen masks for animals in distress

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Saturday, September 12, 2020
Animals showing breathing problems as air quality worsens
Animals are also showing signs of distress caused by the poor air quality we're experiencing in the Bay Area.

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KGO) -- Animals are also showing signs of distress caused by the poor air quality we're experiencing in the Bay Area.

"You're a pretty girl. I know that you can do this. You can do this! Right, Cat?"

That's the constant pep-talk 7-year-old Dakota gives her favorite goat.

RELATED: Meet the horse, Welsh pony, alpaca being treated at UC Davis after escaping the LNU Lightning Complex fire

Nearly four weeks ago the SCU lighting Complex erupted around their area. The Brentwood ranch where they keep their animals was minutes from burning.

Burned brush is visible on the ridge close to the barn where they keep their horse, Strange.

"Before it came all the way down this hillside. You see where they cut out all the fire trails along the ridge. It was pretty crazy," described Macie Hawkins, with her two daughters next to her.

As the air quality continues to deteriorate, the Hawkins family is finding some of their animals dead overnight.

VIDEO: Take a look inside evacuation center for animals displaced by Bay Area wildfires

We got a peek inside the Cow Palace which has been converted into a temporary animal shelter during the wildfires burning across the Bay Area. So far they've taken in nearly 300 evacuated animals - but organizers say there's room for more.

"It's difficult. We've lost a couple chickens and we are not sure. It could be from the extreme heat, it was 114 degrees Monday, or it could be a combination of the heat and the smoke," said Hawkins.

They're also noticing an increase of breathing issues among their animals.

"This is one of my best goats. This is my show goat. I really worry about her a lot. When I noticed her coughing and wheezing, and her runny nose and eyes I told my mom because I only knew it was going to get worse," said 11-year-old, Fallon Hawkins.

Their biggest concern is to lose more animals. They began to use a human nebulizer to treat their goats and chickens every other day.

RELATED: Marin County woman shares story of how she rescued farm animals in Vacaville during LNU Lightning Complex Fire

"We filled it up with eucalyptus to help open up their airwaves," explained Macie Hawkins.

The horses need an even bigger breathing unit.

They're hoping their homemade treatments keeps their animals alive. Macie Hawkins says they wish they could bring them inside their home to protect them from the smoke.

"For most of us we can go in the house whenever we want to, and get out of this climate and air quality. But these animals they can't get out of it," said Macie Hawkins.

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