As fire raged toward San Diego County homes Wednesday, some residents were forced to evacuate so quickly they had to leave everything behind – including their pets.
Carlsbad resident Alane Payne left home before the Poinsettia Fire started. But when she tried to go back to get her dog, Sammy, police wouldn’t let her.
"I was worried about my neighbors. I was worried about the house, but mostly, I was worried about my dog," Payne said.
Fortunately, Payne’s friend was able to rescue her dog.
“He opened the door, and Sammy was sitting on the bed in the dark with no power,” she said, describing their reunion. “It’s scary, and I just feel really lucky.”
Cody Powers wasn’t as lucky. Powers’ girlfriend was home with their two dogs when she awoke from a nap, smelling smoke and hearing sirens and screams.
Powers said no one would take his girlfriend and the two dogs. When she became overwhelmed by the smoke, police offered to take her but not the dogs, he said.
Powers said she had no choice but to set them free.
“We’re crushed. My girlfriend keeps replaying things in her mind. She couldn't grab their leashes. She was just in her underwear," he explained.
The couple was able to find one of their dogs, but the other – a lab/husky mix named Tikaani – is still missing.
Powers has posted flyers around the area and is scouring the internet. He says he won’t stop searching until Tikaani is home.
“They mean everything to me. They're a part of my family. I'd do anything for them,” he said.
Animal Services tells NBC 7 they picked up 50 pets during the evacuation. Anyone missing a pet should contact one of the county’s three shelters in San Diego, Carlsbad and Bonita.
The county has also joined forces with a free app called Finding Rover. The app uses snapshots to match the faces of lost dogs with those that have been found or admitted to county shelters.