HERALD (CBS13) – Evacuations from the Butte Fire have left a number of animals in harm’s way.

A technique many turn to in an emergency is spray painting their phone numbers on their pets so if they become separated, someone has a way to reach their owner.

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For one Amador County man, the last-minute move proved to be a life-saving decision for his horses.

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“We painted the horses just in case they went off and ran, and it just so happens that they made it back to the property and we made it back there too,” said horse owner Tallon Russell.

“Moose” is among the horses with a “916” still visible on his side.

It’s a sight made possible thanks to the quick thinking and fast action of the director of the Horses Healing Heroes program in neighboring Herald.

“He’s our equine services director and he brings the horses here to re-train them and rehabilitate them if we need to,” said Debra Larson, executive director of Horses Healing Heroes.

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The director, named Rafe Little, was flagged down by one of Russell’s neighbors who grabbed a trailer and followed him into the flames as everyone else was driving away.

“The fire was getting real close and, man, they did a hell of a job,” Russell said.

Now they’re recovering in Herald.

“It seems like the horses are adjusting well. They’re fine. They probably have a little bit of smoke inhalation because he said when he went and got them they were actually lethargic,” Larson said.

With some TLC on the menu in the coming days, Russell says he’ll be forever grateful to the non-profit for moving in when it mattered most.

“The most important thing are the horses. The house and everything else – it’s sad to see it go if it does, but the most important thing is the horses,” Russell said.

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Larson says the horses can stay in Herald for as long they need to. Russell says he hasn’t been able to get back to his home and doesn’t know the extent of the damage to his property.