EDMONTON – Officials with the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre (ACCC) to reporters Wednesday to provide an update on the “second home” being given to Fort McMurray pets who escaped an enormous wildfire with their owners.
“Obviously they’re rattled,” Ron Gabruck, director of the ACCC, said. “We’re trying to do our part. We’ve obviously seen first-hand the relief that washes over the faces of the evacuees as they know that this is one less burden that they have to carry- their animals are in fact being taken care of.”
The centre said it has processed 350 pets brought to them by displaced Fort McMurray residents who fled the disaster zone in the past week. Now that some evacuees have been able to find accommodations that allow pets, 65 animals that were staying at the ACCC have been reunited with their owners.
According to the ACCC, common pets like dogs, cats and guinea pigs are now being cared for at the west Edmonton facility, along with more unconventional pets including a hedgehog.
The centre said animals are being given a safe and clean environment and are being tended to by veterinary staff while evacuees are also given the opportunity to visit their furry friends.
“It’s amazing when the kids come in and they get reunited with their pets and the pets are just thrilled,” Tanya Laughren, community relations advisor with the ACCC, said. “As much as they’re loving being walked by volunteers and hanging out with us, they want to be at home too.”
Five ACCC staff have also been sent to Fort McMurray at the request of the province, to help with an animal rescue operation and the process of transferring stray animals and pets left behind, some of whom were sick or injured.
“They are working tirelessly up there and … they are going door-to-door and helping with the searches and they’ve made a few trips back with animals to get them the medical attention they need,” Gabruck said.
“One of the most important things I’ve seen when we were on site at Northlands with our temporary housing, is a lady who came in with four chinchillas,” Laughren said.
“They were a dad, a mom and two little chinchillas. She came up to me and she said ‘I have to surrender my chinchillas.’ It was the very first night and the only thing in her head was having to surrender the animals that she cared about enough to bring all the way from Fort McMurray so we instantly said to her, ‘we are here so that you don’t have to do that. We’ll take in your animals,we’ll care for them for as long as you need us to care for them- just keep touching base with us.'”
The ACCC said it is also working with a number of other agencies including the Alberta SPCA to make sure that pets impacted by the wildfire are being cared for.
WATCH: The Alberta SPCA set up a time and place for Fort McMurray residents forced to leave their homes without their pets to reunite with their animal family members. Vinesh Pratap was there for the special moments.