Rescue group seeks donations to help displaced animals from Tennessee wildfires

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HIGHLAND, IL (KPLR) – The call for help for wildfire victims in Tennessee has reached the St. Louis area. A Highland, Illinois woman is leading a new effort to help horses and livestock displaced by the smoke and flames.

There are reports of ranchers who've had to abandon their land, cutting their fences on their way out so their animals can escape the fires. A group called the Southern Emergency Animal Response Unit (SEARU) asked for help and got an answer from Highland.

The pictures from Tennessee are tearing at hearts more than 500 miles away in Highland; not just the flames, but the people worried other people still missing and more.

“The animals – all of them that are helpless right now that are on their own that have never had to be on their own,” said Michelle Dorsey, a Highland resident now leading the SEARU effort in the St. Louis area. “That’s hard. I have horses. I have goats. I understand what it’s like – and the people missing their animals. It’s very upsetting.”

She’s lined up the Rural King stores in Highland (12531 Sportsman Rd, Highland, IL 62249, ph# 618- 654-5360) and Swansea (2801 N Illinois St, Swansea, IL 62226, ph# 618-355-0800) and the Highland Police Department (820 Mulberry St, Highland, IL 62249, ph# 618-654-2131) to serve as collection centers for animal supplies of all kinds: feed and bedding for livestock, as well as pets, pet crates, ropes and harnesses, even vet wrap bandages to nurse animal wounds.

The goal is to hopefully take at least one worry off the plates of fire victims: who’s going to take care of their displaced animals.

“We need halters and lead ropes for livestock. We also need feed for livestock. When it comes to your normal everyday bets we need collars, leashes, foods of all types and of course kitty litter and bedding,” Dorsey said.

“We have a drop off spot for the donations,” said Highland Police Officer Dave Brines. “They can bring them up here 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. Just bring the stuff up here, tell us why you’re here, we’ll take it from there.”

A couple of other things on the list: hay and straw for horses and t-shirts for people. Thousands of people have been left without a change of clothes. The Highland group plans two trips to deliver the supplies: this Saturday, December 3 and the following Saturday, December 10.