Rescuing the Abandoned Animals of Fort McMurray

The eyes of the world are focused on Fort McMurray, Alberta as wildfire still rages across the province consuming everything in its path. With over 88,000 people displaced by the fire we’ve heard many stories of heroism in the face of danger. Canadians are banding together to help the victims of the fire expecting nothing in return. But there are other victims of the fire who have gone virtually unnoticed, they are the forgotten victims of every disaster, I am talking about the animals of Fort McMurray. Those who through no fault of their own got left behind during the mandatory evacuation of the city.

I know many people are wondering why so many people fled leaving their beloved family pets behind. Some have even said that the people of Fort McMurray don’t care about their pets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evacuation orders came down so quickly that many people were caught off guard.

16 year old Jada Polem rides her Quarter horse Mya out of Fort McMurray in order to save her.

One woman describes being caught downtown away from her home when ordered to evacuate. By the time she got back to her neighborhood it had been cordoned off and police were letting no one enter the area. She was told to leave despite the fact that her dogs were home alone and she wanted to get them out. Another woman managed to load her family and three dogs into her vehicle but was forced to abandon her pet pig because there was no room to transport him out of the hot zone. Others were forced to leave their pets behind because they were told emergency shelters would not admit animals. 16 year old Jada Polem rode her horse Mya out of the hot zone in order to save her, but sadly for many taking pets with them was not an option they were given.

Whatever the reason people were forced to abandon their pets, they did not do so willingly as is evidenced by the number of requests for rescue received by the small but determined group of people who set up a Facebook page to help get animals out of the hot zone. The local Fort McMurray SPCA spent last weekend rescuing pets…in secret. Why the secrecy? For reasons we have yet to find an explanation for the group was given the go ahead to enter the hot zone but was banned from publicizing their rescue efforts for 96 hours.

We could tell you all the stories of heroic rescues, but you can find those on your own. What we would rather discuss today is the fact that every time there is a disaster, the animals are overlooked. In times of emergency pets are viewed as insignificant baggage by government run rescue agencies. The lives of our pets are deemed unworthy of saving.

While I understand the rush to save human lives, I fail to understand how animals are deemed unimportant, and viewed as possessions that don’t matter. Quite frankly, if I am ever in a situation such as this my animals will not get left behind. I will find a way to get to them and get them out of harms way. After all they are my family.


An RCMP officer captures wayward pet pig “Marshall” who got left behind during evacuation of Fort McMurray.

But Canadians are not content to leave the animals of Fort McMurray to fate. Local kennels have stepped up to take in animals free of charge and many people are opening their homes to take in those who did not leave their animals behind. “Rogue” groups of rescuers are breaking into homes to get animals to safety at the request of fire victims. The woman I mentioned earlier has been reunited with the dogs she was forced to leave behind, and the pet pig who wouldn’t fit into the car has been found and rescued thanks to a cop with a watermelon.

Although there are many family pets still trapped in the hot zone, efforts are under way to save as many as possible. Whatever happens, one thing is clear, this country seriously needs to review their policy on family pets and disaster protocol. No living thing should get left behind when an evacuation is called for.

For anyone reading this who still has pets in the hot zone, the Facebook group set up to co-ordinate pet rescue can be found here. It is a closed group so you’ll have to request to join. The Fort McMurray SPCA can be reached through this Facebook page, and have a form to fill out if you are requesting rescue for your animals.

We here at Everything Worth Knowing will continue to monitor the situation as best we can. We ask one last thing of our readers…if you’re the praying type, please pray to whatever God or Goddess you worship for the safety of the animals of Fort McMurray.

Those wishing to donate to the animal rescue efforts can start here. We will provide more links as we find them.

Until Next Time Remember,