Fort McMurray Fire



Late on May 6th, 2016, the Task Force was contacted by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) in order to request our assistance with the care and reunification of the many animals evacuated from Fort McMurray. The project was led by the Alberta SPCA. We were honoured to be invited by the ABVMA to assist with this worthwhile endeavour. Some of our team members were already in Fort McMurray at the request of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in order to assist with the extraction of family pets. Entry onto Fort Mac was very restricted for safety reasons and very few people were being allowed to enter the fire zone.  The fire was very unpredictable.  

Many people wonder how anyone could leave behind their pets. To put this in perspective, some residents were at work and, for safety reasons, were not allowed to return home. Parents were not allowed to pick up their children at school and teachers drove the students out of the evacuation zone. So many owners were so worried about their pets.

Our assistance was requested late at night on May 6th. As a result, we pulled up stakes at our Kehewin Cree Nation clinic and set up in a warehouse in Edmonton. Some of our Medical Team Members left for Fort Mac immediately. 

We want to thank the many volunteers that came forward to help with this major project. We absolutely couldn’t be more proud of our Executive Director and volunteers as well as the staff and volunteers from our friends at Alberta Animal Rescue Crew and other rescue groups too numerous to mention. Their dedication and commitment was exemplary under very trying and extreme conditions. Our Fort Mac extrication volunteer’s slept on floors, our Edmonton based volunteers worked up to 18 hour days and the list goes on.

Every animal that entered the Fort McMurray People and Animal Reunion Centre in Edmonton was examined by a Veterinarian and cared for by Registered Veterinary Technologists. Many arrived in the small hours of the morning. All received exemplary and compassionate care – from tarantulas to Great Danes. So many animals stand out such as the snake found on a driveway in a suitcase, the many cats that owners tried desperately to bring with them in back packs but escaped or the hamster belonging to a day care.  The statistics below demonstrate the scope of this undertaking:

· 1,161 animals admitted since May 8

· 764 animals reunited with their owners

· 178 animals scheduled for reunions (as of May 18)

· 182 animals without owner contact (as of May 18)

· 175 veterinary practices offering support to various relief efforts

· Over 150 veterinarians and RVTs working around the clock

We also want to thank PetSmart Charities for providing an Emergency Relief Grant to cover the many costs incurred.

To all of our volunteers, we want to thank you for taking part in this project. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Please watch MLA Dr. Richard Starke’s, emotional speech in Parliament  regarding his volunteer experience as a Veterinarian at the Reunification Centre.