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Arizona Humane Society team became 'jack-of-all-trades' in Maui wildfires effort

Last month, members of the Arizona Humane Society’s emergency response team traveled to Maui to help with search and rescue efforts for pets following the deadly wildfires there. The five team members are now back.

Tracey Miiller is the director of field operations at the Arizona Humane Society. She says the initial plan was to enter the burn zone to find animals that were still alive and treat them. 

"Unfortunately, after we got there, we were advised that we could not go into the burn zone," said Miiller. 

So, the team pivoted.

"We were like the jack-of-all-trades while we were there. We went up to the Upcountry, and we drove in water to cattle and pigs and horses, whose water had been affected because of the fires and the ash and the smoke, and brought them feed," she said.

The team also supported veterinarians who were on the island. 

It took Miiller a few days to decompress after the trip. 

"What you see in person is significantly different than what you see in the media — and not for the better," she said. "It's definitely traumatic."

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Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.