Earlier this month, volunteers from Colton joined the Molalla Fire District in responding to a house fire on South Wright Road — and came away with a little more than they’d bargained for: a young, orphaned kitten that had managed to escape from the blaze.
Colton Fire Chief Todd Gary found the injured creature hiding in the roots of a nearby tree — drawn by its meowing, which he could hear even over the din of the blaze and the fire crews’ labors.
There’s an old stereotype about firefighters — especially ones in small towns — spending their time rescuing cats from trees, but this was a lot more serious.
The kitten had been burned from exposure to the severe heat in the Oct. 3 fire, inhaled a lot of smoke, and veterinarians said his trachea and esophagus had been damaged.
The owner had no way to care for the little guy, so Colton Fire engineer Dann Dunn and his wife, Brooke, took him in, naming him “Smoky.”
From the very beginning, his survival was not assured. Smoky was in and out of the emergency veterinary clinic, and the Dunns spent a sleepless week and a half tending to the kitten as though he were their own child.
But he was a “fighter,” in the words of Colton Rural Fire District Lt. Chris Cohoon.
“From what they are saying, it’s a touch-and-go thing,” Cohoon reported on Oct. 13. “The kitten came home over the weekend and then ended up back at the clinic because it is not able to eat enough.”
Smoky had a setback later that night, with Brooke Dunn sharing an update and asking for prayer from the Colton Fire family.
“We’re still hopeful that he’s going to pull through,” she wrote. “He had internal burns and smoke inhalation, but he’s mostly struggling with eating enough (his blood sugar keeps plummeting) and keeping a consistent, self-regulated body temperature.
“He’s such a little love. I was at the vet clinic today snuggling him over a warm water pad. Didn’t want to leave! Please say a prayer for our little guy tonight. He’s such a fighter; he deserves to live beyond this, health issue-free and living his ‘best life.'”
Sadly, Smoky did not survive the night, passing at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital of Tualatin 10 days after his rescue from the burning home.
Though the ending was not what anyone wanted, Cohoon said the district applauded the Dunns’ incredible efforts in trying to save a life.
“I think it’s amazing,” Cohoon said. “It goes to the nature of what we do, you know. We’re not just helping people, we want to do whatever we can to help. And for them to take on these veterinary bills and try and save this poor, little thing, it’s incredible.
“They really stepped up, you know? They went above and beyond. They really gave it a fighting chance and a loving home for the last week and a half of its life.”
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!