Dog Reunited With Family 101 Days After Wildfire Destroyed Paradise, California - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Dog Reunited With Family 101 Days After Wildfire Destroyed Paradise, California

Family members believe Kingston survived by eating skunks, because he hunted them before the fire and smelled of skunk when they picked him up

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    Ben Lepe via AP
    This Feb. 18, 2019 photo provided by Ben Lepe shows Maleah Ballejos reunited with her dog Kingston in Paradise, Calif. The Akita named Kingston was reunited with his family 101 days after he jumped out of their truck as they fled a devastating Northern California wildfire.

    A dog named Kingston is back with his family 101 days after he jumped out of their truck as they fled a devastating Northern California wildfire.

    The 12-year-old Akita was reunited Monday with the Ballejos family, who fled the town of Paradise late last year, Sacramento television station KXTV reported.

    "When I found out, (it) just about brought me to tears," said Gabriel Ballejos, Kingston's owner. "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."

    Ballejos said they never lost hope and kept posting flyers and contacting shelters.

    Recovery Starting 100 Days After Paradise Burned

    [NATL] Recovery Starting 100 Days After Paradise Burned

    It's been 100 days since a wildfire nearly burned the town of Paradise off the map. The Nov. 8 blaze destroyed nearly 15,000 homes in the Northern California city of 27,000 residents. The long recovery is just starting.

    (Published Friday, Feb. 15, 2019)

    "Every night I would ask my dad and tell him that we needed to go look for him," said Ballejos' daughter, Maleah.

    The family got a call after animal rescue volunteer Ben Lepe trapped Kingston on Sunday and took him to Friends of Camp Fire Cats, a local rescue group. The volunteers saw a missing dog message on Facebook and contacted the family.

    Lepe said the large dog had been spotted on surveillance cameras and that he set up a trap big enough for it on Saturday.

    "When I went to check it on Sunday, there he was," Lepe said. "It was awesome to see him and know he would be fed and warm."

    Family members believe Kingston survived by eating skunks, because he hunted them before the fire and smelled of skunk when they picked him up.

    The town of Paradise was leveled by a Nov. 8 blaze that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 15,000 homes in the area.

    Angel Herrera, of Friends of Camp Fire Cats, said the group has rescued more than 200 lost pets since the fire and still sets traps.

    "If we had the resources, we could trap 50 animals every single night," she said.