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Helping the pets of fire-ravaged Fort McMurray
May 1st, 2016 marked the beginning of the largest wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. As flames blazed across the community, destroying upwards of 2,400 homes, residents were forced to flee and leave everything behind — including their beloved family pets.
The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) stepped in to help victims reunite with their best friends.
Home Away from Home
Hound, a white Pit Bull mix, was covered in soot when AARCS rescue crews arrived for help. Sitting next to him was Missy, a Pomeranian mix and Hound’s loyal sibling. Though Hound greeted the crew excitedly, little Missy was hesitant to accept the help. But, it didn’t take long for her to follow in Hound’s footsteps and shower the rescue team with wags and kisses.
Both dogs were cared for by AARCS in foster homes. Fosters were prepared to provide shelter for the displaced pups no matter how long it took to reunite them with their owners. This meant Missy and Hound had to be fostered separately until they were ready to make the journey home. When the day finally came on June 23rd, Missy and Hound first reunited with each other. Instantly, Hound became uncontrollably happy to see his little sister. The next reunion would be even greater as both dogs returned home to be a family once again.
Lyle, the pups' owner, was not only greeted by his two healthy and happy pets, the foster volunteers also crafted personalized notes sharing stories about all the fun they had while Hound and Missy were in their care. Lyle was so happy to be reunited with his pets after over one month apart and grateful to know that his pets were so loved.
Never Give Up
When AARCS received a rescue request for a cat named Andrew, crews promptly packed their rescue vehicle and headed to the fire-ravaged city hoping for the best. When AARCS arrived at the deserted home crews searched every nook and cranny but Andrew was nowhere to be found. The team feared Andrew was too shaken to come out. They decided to see if he would come out of hiding on his own accord by setting a live trap inside the house. Crews checked the trap several times over the next three days, without a single sign of Andrew.
The crew’s time in Fort McMurray was coming to an end and rescuers were losing faith. But, later that evening, Andrew was finally lured by the tasty treats within the live trap. The team cheered in relief as the frightened kitty was finally contained and ready to be transported to safety. He was transferred to the animal reunification center in Edmonton and reunited with his pet parent.
Furry or Scaly, Pets are Family
AARCS teams were up for the challenge of helping save any and all family pets—including a snake named Gretta. The rescue team, not used to working with large reptiles, was nervous to pick up the big girl under such stressful circumstances. Gretta proved to be a sweetheart allowing a team of strangers to pick her up and put her in a pillowcase for transport to safety. Gretta was cared for by the Edmonton Humane Society and was reunited with her mom Kim.
PetSmart Charities® Emergency Relief Grant funds supported the care of 1,179 companion animals just like Hound and Missy, Andrew, and Gretta who were displaced and in need of care as a result of the fire. The $52,000 in grant funds from PetSmart Charities was used by AARCS for care and transport supplies such as crates/carriers, medical supplies and food.
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