Evacuated Animals Receive Special Care
Prince George, B.C. – The now week-old effort in Prince George to provide support services to upwards of 6-thousand B.C. wildfire evacuees is a monumental undertaking, and the same can be said for the care of animals abruptly displaced by the fires.
The manager of the North Cariboo branch of the SPCA, Jamie Walsh, says her organization has teamed up with the Prince George Humane Society to do everything necessary for the animals that have been transported here. They are jointly running the Animal Evacuation Centre which has been set up at Peden Hill Elementary school on Westwood Drive.
Walsh says “we have dogs and cats, kittens and puppies, moms with puppies, moms with kittens, one pot-bellied pig (which has been adopted), ferrets and rabbits, at the moment. They’re coming from Williams Lake, Quesnel, 100 Mile, Anahim Lake, Little Fort, all of the outlying areas.”
There were over 130 animals at the centre on Thursday with another 70-plus expected to arrive from the Quesnel shelter which had earlier taken in animals from the shelters in 100 Mile and Williams Lake.
The animals are being transported in flight kennels, by people with horse trailers and “just by ordinary people.” She says “Northern Health has buses that are going back and forth as well so people are able to bring the animals on the bus with them if there’s room. It’s a great effort on everybody’s part.”
Walsh also says they’ve had horses come in “but they are going to the PG Agriplex, the equine grounds at CN Centre. PG Equine Rescue as well as the horse society” are in charge of that end of things.
Walsh says dealing with the influx of animals “is quite a heavy task, which is why we’re working collaboratively with the Humane Society in the direction of resources. We’re running intake of the animals, health exams, veterinary care if needed, management of the animals, management of the volunteers and resources. There are some (animals) that are under isolation because they’re coming in sick or injured which are needing further veterinary care, making sure the animals are walked, fed, watered and cleaned, and their basic necessities above and beyond that.”
“So it’s a huge undertaking. We’re really working together to pool both our resources together to make sure everybody has what they need.”
(North Cariboo SPCA Manager Jamie Walsh (left) and PG Humane Society Executive Director Angela McLaren, in photo above right, are spearheading the effort to care for displaced animals from throughout the Cariboo region.)
The effort, of course, means huge cost. Walsh says “we are bringing in donations. We have veterinarians who are volunteering their time as well as staff and volunteers that are taking time away to do this. We’ve had donated resources and supplies such as food and water, dishes, blankets, toys, cleaning supplies, medications. And then we have some donations of hard money coming in to help with the medical care. It’s not all free, unfortunately, and we have to spend a considerable amount of money to buy the supplies that we may need or run out of.”
What do they need the most? Walsh says “money donations is really what is going to help us at this point, and then large flight kennels. We house the animals in large dog kennels and we’re running out of those.”
Donations can be made at the BC SPCA at 4011 Lansdowne Road from 12 pm to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday and at the PG Humane Society, 12A – 1839 First Avenue from 11 am to 5 pm.
Walsh says while the people working on this effort are swamped, one thing that is not needed at this point is more volunteers. They have about 50 people on active duty in shifts, and there are another 200 or so applicants who are waiting to provide any assistance that might be needed.
She also notes that “we have our Cruelty Investigations Department aiding in the support system and the relief to the affected areas where animals have been left behind. So we’re pooling our resources together with the provincial SPCA to move into these areas that still need help.”
She says Peden Hill Elementary was lined up as the Animal Evacuation Centre through the City of Prince George and the BC SPCA. “We reached out to the City because the space we were in before was quite small and the ventilation wasn’t what we needed with the animals coming in. So, with the school being city-owned we were able to move into a facility that wasn’t being used for the summer.”
“We’re set up in the gym and on the stage and in a couple of classrooms.”