KYLE, S.D. — Calvin Red Owl was just a man doing what he loves; giving care and love to animals.
Created in 2014, Red Owl’s animal shelter, The White Owl Animal Sanctuary was his way of providing a helping hand to the animals in need on the Pine Ridge reservation. The sanctuary just received non-profit status a couple years ago.
“Growing up my whole life here on the reservation, I had always seen the need for animal welfare here,” Red Owl said. “It inspired me to make all life better for all the cats and dogs, so I started the animal shelter to help improve the living conditions here on the reservation for not only us as the people but for the animals as well.”
But that all changed on the night of Wednesday, November 11.
“I opened up the trailer to get the puppies as quick as I could and it just went up in flames after that,” Red Owl said.
That night, Red Owl was at home speaking to members of the Medicine Root Tribal District about animal abuse laws. Red Owl says he saw smoke coming from the double-wide trailer that he used as a home for the puppies at his animal sanctuary. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
“It was really cold that night and as I got all the puppies out and was waiting for the fire department to come, I couldn’t do anything but stand there and watch it burn,” Red Owl said.
With no shoes or jacket, Red Owl saved the 27 puppies, but the puppies’ home was gone.
The trailer wasn’t just a home for the puppies as Red Owl was planning on also using it to open a used clothing store to help fund the animal shelter. The price of the clothing lost in the fire came to about $8,000.
“It just completely shocks me that we lost everything,” said Red Owl.
While some donations have already started to pour in, much more will be needed for Red Owl to rebuild the first and only animal shelter on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“Right now, my only focus is getting these 47 animals a place to live,” Red Owl said.