Fort McMurray fire worsens animal displacement, 100 abandoned at shelter
Efforts made by Calgarians and Suncor Energy will see 300 animals shipped from Fort McMurray to either Calgary or Edmonton
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Help is on the way for some of Fort McMurray’s displaced and stranded animals, though the situation appears to have worsened, according to SPCA workers in the area.
After raging wildfires on Tuesday left more than 200 animals stranded in their homes, Suncor Energy and numerous Calgarians donated more than 300 crates so furry friends up north can be easily transported with their owners.
On Thursday, rescuers said they don’t expect to conduct rescue operations until Monday, according to RJ Bailot, executive director with the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force.
“It’s still too dangerous to go into town,” Bailot said. “We know animals are in people’s cars that have been abandoned on the road — they just couldn’t take them.”
Horrifyingly, Bailot said, more than 100 pooches and pigs at the MacKenzie Boarding Kennel, located near the airport, have been abandoned by keepers as they were told to evacuate Wednesday night.
“It’s haunting me, and I haven’t been able to sleep,” Bailot said. “It was impossible for them to round them all up in a short amount of time.”
Other than being trapped in the city, animals are believed to be with their owners or at kennels located outside town.
Bailot emphasized many residents didn’t intentionally leave animals behind. He said people couldn’t return home to rescue their animals as conditions were unsafe.
“People could hear their dogs barking from a distance, but couldn’t get them because they weren’t allowed back,” he said. “I just can’t imagine.”
Some Fort McMurray animals have made their way down to Calgary, according to Deanna Thompson, executive director with Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.
“We’re not sure if their owners are here,” she said. “There still isn’t a lot of information.”
Hundreds of donated crates were gathered and shipped up to Fort McMurray.
The donated crates will be used to contain the animals when they and their owners fly to either Edmonton or Calgary. Flight dates aren’t yet set, Thompson said.
The Calgary Humane Society put out an urgent call for more of the hard plastic kennels, after a request for 600 more came in.
Anyone can drop off donated kennels to their location at 4455 - 110 Avenue SE.
Bailot said rescue groups are doing their best — he doesn’t want to point fingers at people over the relief effort.
“We learned a lot from the 2013 Flood,” he said. “But fires are so much different. We’re doing the best we can.”
The Edmonton Humane Society is also expected to house many of the displaced animals.
Bailot said a Facebook page, called Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance, has been created to let owners know which camps and hotels are accepting animals.
Numerous SPCA organizations across the province have also pitched in to help. Their contact information can be found here.
A form for people who are willing to open their homes to displaced animals can be filled out here.