Kamloops pet shelter organizer calls for provincial animal disaster relief program

The Four Paws Food Bank is helping coordinate a makeshift animal shelter outside the Kamloops evacuation centre. Facebook / Four Paws Food Bank

A  Kamloops woman working with wildfire evacuees and their pets is calling on the government to establish an animal relief program to meet pet needs in times of crisis.

Bonnie McBride is a coordinator with Four Paws Food Bank in Kamloops, a volunteer run organization that provides pet food for owners who are having trouble making ends meet.

LISTEN:  CKNW reporter Emily Lazatin talks to Bonnie McBride

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Over the past week the organization has been inundated with owners in need, and McBride said it highlights a gap in the province’s emergency response plans.

She said about 800 animals have come and gone from a makeshift pet shelter set up outside the city’s emergency social services centre.

“We had taken in about 400 pets in advance of Saturday night when Williams Lake was evacuated. In the next 10 hours after that, we took in another 400.”

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She said she’s been overwhelmed with the response from the community.

The initiative has drawn more than 200 active volunteers, and hundreds more have offered to foster pets in need.

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But McBride said while donations and food have been pouring in, relying on people’s good will in a crisis isn’t a sound strategy long term.

“Our concern moving forward is definitely donor fatigue. We have sent countless pets to the vet, we have sent countless pets to the groomers. We have paid a ton in transportation costs to get teams into Cache Creek and Ashcroft to pull animals out that were left behind,” she said.

She said she wants to see some kind of formal role for the province, or at least a source of funding to assist pets and their owners during disaster response.

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