Photo by Paul Neevel

Matt and Eve Hawkins

“I grew up with animals,” says Eve Hawkins, who spent her childhood years along the McKenzie River east of Eugene. “We had everything from reptiles in the house to horses outside and everything in between. We rescued a litter of skunk babies after the mother was murdered by a dog. It was the start of my love of rescuing animals.” She and her husband, Matt, a North Eugene grad, have five acres on the Pleasant Hill side of Dexter, where they are raising their three children along with three horses, two miniature horses, three cows, five sheep, two goats, many ducks, geese and turkeys, four dogs and four cats. They also foster rescued animals for Lucky Paws Animal Rescue in Springfield. They learned of the Holiday Farm Fire in the nearby McKenzie River Valley on their return from a Labor Day weekend campout. Eve quickly found the Facebook page Holiday Farm Fire Animal Rescue, hosted by former Lane County animal welfare advocate Julie Ohashi, who coordinated rescue efforts from her new home in Michigan, and other local animal lovers. Two days later, when their own threat of evacuation was eased, Matt headed upriver with his Chevy Suburban and horse trailer. “I went up every day for two weeks,” he says. “Most of what I did was to bring food and water to animals sheltering in place.” He also transported animals downriver at the request of owners. Livestock were taken to the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene; dogs and cats went to Lucky Paws. Eve, an administrator at an assisted living facility, joined him full-time on weekends and part-time some weekdays. “We were taking care of animals in Leaburg,” she relates, “when we got a call about a place upstream where they needed more resources. It was pretty intense, still burning in hot spots. A friend and I got two kunekune pigs into a trailer while Matt and a team were getting six or eight Jacob sheep loaded. I can’t even tell you how many geese and ducks we loaded up. That was our favorite rescue.”