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Posts: 1
I had gotten a sweet 8 week old pitbull/labrador mix puppy and I was so excited. I hadn’t owned a pet since my last dog ran away and I though this was my moment to redeem myself after 2 years. Things were awesome...until something happened. I live in Sonoma and after she turned 4 months we had wildfires burning all around and I had to evacuate at like 2 am but I right away thought about her. I am 14 so I still live with my mother and she insisted we leave her AND her brother (my sister’s dog) and come back for them later since we have a young child and my mom was worried about the health risks. After much begging my mother still said to leave her so I did. It hurt so much to leave her that I had a panic attack just thinking about her. After a week we went back but the air was horrible and everyone wore masks. Once we got home I ran towards her and she was so happy. We took her and stayed away for a while longer but it was too late. When everything was calm I noticed that she was strange. She wasn’t eating and was acting very weak but I brushed it off. After 3 days like that I found her laying down and no matter how hard I shook her she wouldn’t wake up. I called my mom over but it was too late she was already dead. I wasn’t there for her and it was my fault. I tried talking to my mom about it but she said to stop overreacting. The next day her brother Blackie died as well. I feel like I am too blame. I searched it up and it seems that she may have died from smoke inhalation. I hate to think about it when I remember every single detail. She died October 21 at 12:00 pm and my grandpa buried her body somewhere and I haven’t had the guts to ask him where. It was my fault. I should have been persistent about taking her and maybe she’d be alive and well. It’s my fault.

Posts: 730
This is NOT your fault.  This is NOT something you could have prevented.  That would mean taking responsibility for the wildfires, the smoke, the evacuation, your mother's reaction, and everything else that followed.  And this is simply not real and not possible - you do not control the world or the environment or other people.

Im emergency situations, there are too many things that happen too quickly for anyone to really have a rational way to manage everything.  You have to make decisions on the spur of the moment, and try your best to be safe, and be strong.  You did those things, and more.  You are also just 14 - and the adults around you took charge of the process, leaving very little room for you to change the situation, or contribute.  They did what they thought was best - and you must try to remember that - it was not anyone's intention to cause harm to any living thing - panic is not something that creates the best judgment from most people.

Your little pups were victims of a catastrophe that no one could have predicted.  Like many people and animals, they succumbed to injuries received in these horrific fires.  Yes, the outcome may have been very different if the pups could have been evacuated along with your family - and I am so very sorry they were not - but the decisions made at the time by your mum must have made sense to her in the moment. Your mum would have never intentionally harmed these little ones, but her panic created her decisions, and you were powerless to change that. 

All I can tell you is that your heart and soul were absolutely in the right place as you tried to make a plan for these little pets during this incredibly stressful time.  What might help is to use this experience to start a family plan of action in case something like this happens again.  Who takes what?  Where do we go?  How do we account for any pets we have? What is our communication plan?  Many people who have been through floods or fires do this, and they find themselves more prepared to manage next time.  The same way couples who are expecting a baby pack a bag in advance, plan their driving route to the hospital, and have a list of who they need to call.  

I can also tell you that your guilt is misplaced - it's lying to you, telling you that somehow you should have had control over everyone and everything in order to change the outcome.  But you did not, and you can never have that level of control over fire or the actions of other people.  If you feel you must, then please forgive yourself.  No one here on this board would ever blame you, or make you responsible for what is truly a tragic situation.  It was not your fault - and you did your best in an emergency - that's all you can expect of yourself.  The pups are at peace, they had each other, and they had the heart of someone like you who cared so much about them.  

My heart breaks for you - but you did not cause this anymore than I caused the cancer that killed my little dog.  I hope that your heart heals, because you deserve to know just how special, and how caring, you really are.   


Posts: 837
I am so very sorry for your losses. You are not to blame for her death. I would have been begging to take her with me just as you did. At the age of 14 you had no choice in the matter. You had to obey your mother. I am glad you were able to be with her for a little while before she died. She knew you loved her and she loved you in return. I know how hard her loss is for you and wish I could help. Please remember we are always here offering comfort and support anytime you need it. Please take care and God bless you.
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