April 12, 2019 4:26 pm
Updated: April 12, 2019 4:58 pm

Animal sanctuary reeling after 9 animals killed in Thursday night barn fire

Some of the animals at FARRM, an animal sanctuary about 70 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

Supplied: FARRM

An Edmonton-area animal sanctuary is trying to move ahead after a barn fire claimed the lives of nine large animals Thursday night.

Fire crews from the City of Wetaskiwin were called to the Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement at around 6:20 p.m. When crews arrived on scene, there was no hope in saving the barn.

“The barn was fully involved upon our arrival and at that time the smoke was visible from the city itself,” chief Jamie Wilkinson told 630 CHED.

The sanctuary takes in surrendered and abandoned farm animals and offers care and space for them.

FARRM owner Melissa Foley said she and her husband had no idea their barn was on fire until a neighbour ran up and started banging on the door.

The two had just come in from the barn to make dinner and ran back outside to try and save as many animals as they could.

“By the time we ran out to the barn and were notified that there was a fire, most of it was already threatening to collapse,” Foley said. “We got as many animals out of there that we could but there were quite a few that tried to run back in and we couldn’t make it out.”

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Yesterday in the matter of minutes we lost 10 members of our family. I felt it was important to update our FARRM community with more information to avoid further questions and messages. This will be the only post that we make about those we lost. We are in a state of shock and complete despair as these were not just animals to us, they were our family. Daisy, Mickey, Elle, Bear, Maddox, Annabelle, Plummley, Missy, Diesel and Hamlet did not make it. Mortimer is severely burned and will most likely have to be humanely euthanized. We lost many of our feral cats and rabbits but we do not have accurate information on who made it out at this time. Our current focus is building a temporary shelter for those that survived – lean to shelters for the larger animals and a small wooden house for the feral cats. The feral cats need someplace safe to sleep as there are coyotes all throughout our community. We ask that everyone please give us space and time to grieve. Please do not send messages to our core volunteers asking for details, it is too much for us to handle at this moment. We do not know what the plan is going forward we just know we need to secure temporary shelter for those that are safe. That is our only focus at this time. The best way to assist FARRM right now is to donate. There is currently NO official 3rd Party FARRM fundraising campaign (GoFundMe or otherwise) created or endorsed by FARRM. Please ensure that if you do intend to donate, it is done through our website only (link in bio). The cause of the fire is currently being investigated and FARRM is working with Fire Department Officials to assist in any way we can. We will provide updated information when able. We understand that everyone is trying to help but we ask that you please direct all questions and inquiries to farrmrescue@gmail.com, Chantele will follow up with you.

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Nine pot-bellied pigs and goats died in the fire including Daisy, a blind goat that gained country-wide fame when she went missing from the sanctuary in September 2017.

Daisy is a brown and white baby goat who is blind. FARRM said she was reported stolen from the animal sanctuary south of Edmonton on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.

Credit: FARRM

“All I could say was, ‘my babies.’ And I just thought they’re probably in there wondering what’s going on and wondering where their mom is. And I wasn’t there. And I couldn’t get to so many of them. And that has played through my head since the moment I walked out and saw the flames taking our barn.

“I wonder if they knew that I loved them and that I didn’t do it on purpose and I would have helped them if I could have. I would never wish that upon any living thing, especially not my animals.”

READ MORE: Daisy the blind baby goat reunited with Alberta farm animal rescue group 3 days after she was allegedly stolen

WATCH BELOW: (Sept. 11, 2017) The owner of a blind baby goat is pleading for the animal’s return. Daisy has been missing since Sunday and needs special care. As Quinn Ohler reports, the entire animal-rescue community is coming together in hopes of finding Daisy.

Another pig is badly burned and Foley said they’re trying to make the animal comfortable while they find a vet who has experience treating this type of injury.

She’s not sure how many animals they were able to save as there are a lot of animals like chickens and feral barn cats on the property. Right now the sanctuary and its volunteers are trying to make the remaining animals as comfortable as possible.

READ MORE: Alberta animal shelter using donated pumpkins to feed rescued pigs

It’s been especially hard on the goats who lost siblings and moms in the fire, Foley said.

“They keep walking back and forth on the fence line and they want to go back in their home, and it’s just not there anymore.

“It’s just immense sorrow. These weren’t just livestock, these animals had a story. They came to us for help, they came to us sometimes from terrible places and these guys, they were all individuals.

“Just like a person has a dog or a cat, these guys weren’t just goats. They weren’t just pigs. These guys were our family.”

The organization is looking to raise money to be able to get a temporary shelter in place for the feral cats. Foley worries for their safety at night since there are coyotes and foxes in the area.

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INFORMATION UPDATE The fire last night has devastated FARRM, both emotionally and in resource. At this time, and for their safety and well-being, the animals will remain at FARRM. We appreciate the offers to assist in temporary location, but many are special needs, require specific care, and because of poor health, cannot be relocated. As such, WE IMMEDIATELY REQUIRE MONETARY DONATIONS TO ASSIST WITH TEMPORARY HOUSING AND FOOD FOR THE ANIMALS. Any amount will greatly assist, and donations can be made here: Link in bio to donate. There is currently NO official 3rd Party FARRM fundraising campaign (GoFundMe or otherwise) created or endorsed by FARRM. Please ensure that if you do intend to donate, it is done through our website only. We can confirm that at least nine animals lost their lives in the fire, at least one has been severely injured and is in critical condition. The best way to assist FARRM right now is to donate. Due to the extreme emotional stress and trauma we've experienced, we will not be responding to media or personal requests for information at this time. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated and we will provide updated information when able. Thank you.

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Wilkinson said it’s too early in the fire investigation to know what caused the fire or how much the damage estimate will be. Foley — who built the barn with her husband over the last three years — figures the total loss will be as much as $50,000 as the couple had just loaded the top of the barn with winter hay and straw.

READ MORE: Alberta farm animal rescue sanctuary struggles to keep up with overwhelming demand

Wetaskiwin fire crews were on scene Thursday until about 11 p.m. and will be back on site on Friday afternoon to continue the investigation.

Wetaskiwin is about 70 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

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