Dog that was lost in California wildfire reunited with family 101 days later

Dog that was lost in California wildfire reunited with family 101 days later

A family dog, feared lost forever by his loving family after the wildfire that ripped its way through the state of California last year, has been reunited with his family after 101 days of uncertainty.

As the Ballejos family fled their home in Paradise, California following the Camp Fire wildfires that led to 15,000 people homes being destroyed their family pup, 12-year-old Kingston, jumped off the back of their pickup truck. By the time that they realised that Kingston was gone, they were already several miles away, and although the odds were stacked against the dog, the Ballejos never gave up.

Kingston the dog Credit: Madison Meyer

"When I found out, [it] just about brought me to tears," Gabriel Ballejos said of the moment he was reunited with his 12-year-old dog, while speaking to local news outlets. "I'm so proud of him. I can't believe it. He's a true survivor, and it's a testament to the American spirit."

Posting flyers and posting them all over the city - not to mention contacting shelters to see if their beloved canine had turned up - but for so long, their efforts were to no avail. "Every night I would ask my dad and tell him that we needed to go look for him," said Maleah, Gabriel's daughter, epitomising just how much they wanted Kingston to return.

Kingston and the Ballejos Credit: Suzanne Maxwell

Weeks passed by, with no such luck. But, a full 101 days after the fires broke out and the family escaped, the Ballejos got a very important phone call. Ben Lepe, a dog-trapper working in the area, had managed to ensnare Kingston in one of his traps, and took him to the rescue group Friends of Camp Fire Cats.

Friends of Camp Fire Cats are a rescue group dedicated to reuniting families separated from their pets, with one member, Hannah Braden, saying they've found around 200 pets so far.

"For people that have lost everything to be able to reunite them with an animal they thought they lost is the light at the end of the tunnel and gives them the hope they need," Braden explained, and the Ballejos family were delighted to see Kingston alive and well again.

Kingston the dog Credit: Ben Lepe

"He was lost and he found his way and he survived, and it's amazing and special and so thankful and grateful to have him home again," said Ballejos. "101 days he went missing he's still here and used his survival skills and he's a true survivor."

The Ballejos family believing that the dog had survived by hunting skunks. He hunted them before losing his way, and when he was found, the smell of skunk was all over him - requiring several washes to get rid of the stench.

Gabriel Ballejos told KXTV that his family is delightful to have Kingston home again.