Pets with families fleeing Fort McMurray flames are being welcomed at Central Alberta animal shelters and kennels.
On Wednesday, Red Deer & District SPCA took in five dogs, four cats and a four-week-old gosling that doesn’t even have feathers yet.
“It’s been pretty sad watching the people coming in in tears. Their life is just devastated and now they have to place their animals who they love dearly in our care until they can get things figured out. It’s pretty emotional and tough on them,” SPCA animal care manager Amy Corpe said on Thursday.
She said the tiny gosling is doing great.
About half of the critters are staying at the facility and the rest are with SPCA foster families.
“We’re not going to be saying no to anyone fleeing the Fort Mac area.”
She said animals can stay free of charge until people are back on their feet and families can also access free veterinarian care, including spaying and neutering, vaccinations, deworming and medical exams.
Since pet owners can’t visit their animals, Corpe will be keeping them updated with photos if they like.
She said family visits would be too hard on the animals since they don’t have the capacity to understand what is happening and may also have been through a traumatic experience. Plus some will be with foster families.
“Many, many Alberta SPCAs and rescue groups have stepped up to work together to help the evacuees from Fort Mac,” Corpe said.
On Thursday the local SPCA collected enough donations of hardsided animal kennels to fill a van. They will be used to transport animals affected by the evacuation.
Klassic Kennels owner Jim deBoon said his facility got their first two furry evacuees Wednesday night.
“The challenge is it took (the family) basically 12 hours to get out of Fort Mac, then a four-hour drive to Edmonton. So a lot of the centres are taking longer to fill up because people can’t get anywhere,” deBoon said.
He said the family drove down in four vehicles with 12 people and two dogs.
“They convoyed down here. We have the dogs and they’re staying with family in Blackfalds.”
The kennel is offering free service for short stays of a few weeks.
He said while the level of support for pets is high, more has to be done to help animals during disasters. Command centres need to appoint someone with experience who can answer pet-related questions and co-ordinate people offering assistance. More efficient use of volunteers is required.
“It’s a weak part of almost every disaster plan in every community. Some people won’t leave a disaster if you can’t tell them where their pet is going.”
Sylvan Lake & Area Serenity Pet Shelter Society is also accepting pets. Old MacDonald Kennel near Ponoka will also take big animals like horses.
A list of organizations offering to house animals can be found at https://supportersofabrescues.com/2016/05/04/fort-mcmurray-fire-animal-aid.
Petland is accepting pet food, supplies and cash donations for those in need.