More than a dozen dogs from an animal shelter in a remote Northwest Territories community have found a new home in Nova Scotia after devastating wildfires spread throughout the area in August and caused significant damage, forcing thousands to evacuate.
In a media release on Wednesday, the Nova Scotia SCPA said it’s taken in 11 puppies and five adult dogs from the Hay River Animal Shelter. The animals had been residing in various foster shelters throughout Alberta for the past month.
Sarah Lyon, with the Nova Scotia SPCA, said a volunteer from the Hay River area “loaded up her car (with the animals) and just drove” after the town’s animal shelter made a plea on Facebook asking for fleeing residents to take an animal with them upon their departure.
“She got some animals to Grande Prairie, while the rest were brought to Edmonton via military transport when the fire reached just a kilometre outside of the centre of the town,” she said.
Following the dogs’ arrival in Alberta, the Hay River Animal Shelter worked alongside Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB) to locate a nearby shelter to take responsibility for the relocated animals. Due to separate wildfires raging in other areas of Western Canada, no shelters were capable of offering support at the time.
In response, they decided to look for support on the opposite side of the country and phoned the Nova Scotia SPCA.
Marieke Van Der Veldon, VWB’s Northern Canada program manager, said Nova Scotia’s SPCA branch has “a strong legacy of supporting animals during emergencies.”
“Although space in their shelters is significantly limited at this time, their offer of help for these 16 animals is truly appreciated, as they quite literally have nowhere else to go,” she said.
Wings of Rescue, a volunteer-run charity that provides flights for rescued animals, also stepped up to assist with the cross-country journey by flying the dogs to Nova Scotia.
“We are so happy to be a part of the continued support of Canadian animals affected by this summer’s wildfires,” said Ashley Wright, Wings of Rescue’s executive director.
“We look forward to them finding their forever homes in Nova Scotia.”
Since their arrival, the puppies have been placed in foster homes while the adult dogs have been brought into shelters throughout the province. Both groups will receive any necessary medical treatment prior to becoming eligible for adoption.
Lyon said the Nova Scotia SPCA has a “strong network of foster families,” which allows for the charity to continue receiving animals that are desperate for a new home.
She also added that the dire circumstances leading to the evacuation of the animal shelter in Hay River provided some perspective, which strengthened the charity’s decision to recruit the animals.
“When we were approached to help, to bring in 16 dogs, we thought about the wildfires we went through this past May ourselves, and how lucky we were that we did not have to evacuate any of our shelters,” she said.
“But if we had, we hope that when asked to help our animals, someone would have said yes.”
As the SPCA continues to provide medical care, the registered charity is asking for donations or volunteer efforts from the public to assist with the dogs’ treatment.