Petaluma native and professional racer Shelina Moreda featured in ‘Returning the Favor’ for animal rescues
Shelina Moreda, a Petaluma native, decorated professional motorcycle racer and CoverGirl, is no stranger to earning accolades and praise.
So when she was told that a documentary crew would visit her at her family dairy farm in Petaluma earlier this year, it was a reasonable assumption that they would want to talk racing.
Turns out, Moreda’s work in rescuing hundreds of animals from numerous Northern California wildfires caught the attention of popular TV host Mike Rowe, featuring her in the latest episode of his Facebook series “Returning the Favor,”which highlights do-gooders across the country.
Her non-profit organization, NorCal Livestock Evacuation, was launched in 2017 in response to the calamitous October fires.
“I love my day job, I didn’t need to start doing this,” Moreda explained to Rowe in the 26-minute show. “I began because there was this big need for it. It was crazy to see there was no system in place for getting animals out of fires.”
The episode premiered on Facebook Tuesday, amassing thousands of shares and views within the first hour of its debut. Viewers are shown drone shots and panoramas of familiar Petaluma landmarks and rolling hills, while Moreda leads camera crews around her family ranch and chats with the affable host best known for starring in “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It”
In the show, Rowe is introduced to Fire Dog, a German shepherd Morena rescued from a burning house amid the 2018 Mendocino Complex fires.
“If you’re like me, you can’t hear Fire Dog’s story and not imagine your own pet, trapped in a burning house,” Rowe says. “And if you can imagine that, just imagine how grateful you’d feel if someone like Shelina kicked in the door and saved the day.”
As wildfires continue to torch Sonoma County and neighboring regions with alarming regularity, Moreda’s animal rescue operation has become a crucial resource for evacuees. The Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in central Petaluma has routinely served as a home base for Moreda’s rescues, and was also featured in the show.
In an email, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds CEO Allison Keaney said the compound has served as an evacuation center for both people and animals five times within the past three years, caring for nearly 1700 animals and livestock. This year’s Glass fire is just the most recent instance.
The episode ends with one last surprise for the Petaluman athlete and rescuer: a check for $30,000 and a truck full of gear and tools worth $6,000.
Upon seeing the hard hats, chain saws and fire-retardant gear displayed on the back of a truck, Moreda tipped her hat to any Petaluma viewers, joking: “You put it on a float like it’s the Butter and Egg Days Parade!”
(Contact Kathryn Palmer at email@example.com, on Twitter @KathrynPlmr.)