While the Fort McMurray fire continues to burn through the province of Alberta, evacuated pet owners that weren’t allowed back into their homes to collect their family pets have taken to social media in desperate pleas for help to rescue their stranded animals. As always, Albertans near and far have answered their call, as convoys from around the province have set out to brave the fire — and the RCMP, who have evicted some of the civilian heroes from Fort McMurray — to gather as many stranded animals as possible.
Since the evacuation order was given last week, dozens of Fort McMurray pet rescue groups have cropped up on Facebook in an attempt to meet the demand from frustrated and scared animal owners that were evacuated from work or school and were unable to return to their homes to collect their beloved family pets. As animal owners post their home addresses and pictures of their animals, begging for someone to rescue them, teams of people from around Alberta have loaded up trucks, trailers, and cars, and headed back into Fort McMurray — some with permission to enter the city, and some without — to save as many animals as possible.
In an interview with CBC News, one of these civilian heroes, Wyatt Colquhoun-Rivard a member of Western Canadian Powerstrokes on Facebook — a group of “truck enthusiasts who do charity work” — said that initially, his small group had been allowed to enter Fort McMurray for two days to help refuel emergency vehicles. As the fire grew larger, however, Colquhoun-Rivard and his group were asked to wait it out until it was safe for them to begin helping again. Not one to sit idly by, however, Colquhoun-Rivard said that a spur of the moment decision sent he and his group back into Fort McMurray to help rescue any animals they could find.
“It was a spur of the moment thing. And we just decided not to sit around anymore. We said ‘Let’s go save some pets…We went rogue.'”
Breaking windows to enter locked houses and braving the dark hallways of abandoned apartment buildings, Colquhoun-Rivard and his team managed to rescue quite a few stranded and abandoned animals — including five dogs and three cats all belonging to one desperate family — before they ultimately had to leave Fort McMurray.
Pleas for help continue to flood in on Facebook and Twitter. Pictures of family pets ranging from horses and pigs to bearded dragons and snakes, and everything in between, are being posted to social media in the hopes that someone will be able to rescue them. Another civilian hero, Jen Burke, posted to the Facebook group Fort Mcmurray Evac Relocation Help Group yesterday morning that she had loaded her car up with dogs, cats, and even a couple of reptiles rescued from Fort McMurray, and was on her way to reunite them with their families.
Even those who couldn’t load up a truck and head back into the smoked-out town of Fort McMurray are doing what they can to help. The Edmonton Humane society has been “inundated with donations from pet lovers around the city,” reports the Globe and Mail. Humane Society chief executive officer Miranda Jordan-Smith said they were overwhelmed with the donations coming to them from across the province.
“We have a whack of food here. We have pallet upon pallet of food ready to ship out to the evacuation sites and Fort McMurray. The Edmonton community is always so giving.”
As the Fort McMurray fire continues to burn through the province and firefighters, RCMP and EMTs work tirelessly to fight the blaze and tend to the injured, Albertans have come together to brave the fire and help rescue those family members who are most vulnerable and dependent upon us: the family pets.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]