Monday July 17, 2017

Pets 'the only thing they have left': B.C. animal owners flee wildfires

Karen Warren, an evacuee from Cache Creek, B.C., with her two dogs at the Kamloops evacuation centre.

Karen Warren, an evacuee from Cache Creek, B.C., with her two dogs at the Kamloops evacuation centre.

Listen 5:43

Read Story Transcript

As more evacuees take refuge in Kamloops, B.C., volunteers are scrambling to find food and shelter not only for the families but also their pets.

'The dog they bring here in their arms is the only thing they have left.'

Four Paws Food Bank coordinator Bonnie McBride says there are about 60 volunteers trying to run a full emergency service centre.

Kamloops evacuation centre

Bonnie McBride at the Four Paws Food Bank. (Cathy Simon/CBC)

"We're averaging about 500 bags of food and litter a day. We're not missing a single evacuee or their pets."

McBride and her crew sit with pets barred from entering the evacuation centre.

"We have had upwards to 35 animals each day since Friday."

With temperatures averaging 35 C each day, McBride says volunteers have set up pools for pets and tucked frozen bottles into dog crates to keep the animals cool.

zeus

Zeus is able to cool down thanks to the help of volunteers. (Cathy Simon/CBC)

Volunteers have helped woodpeckers, goats, sheep, and lots of dogs, says McBride.

zeus

Zeus (Cathy Simon/CBC)

Karen Warren, one of the many animal owners in B.C., scrambled to get out when evacuation orders came down.

"It's bad. I hate it. I totally hate it," sobs Warren, missing her home.

"I grabbed the dogs, their food, their treats and that was it."

For many evacuees, hanging onto these pets "is really hanging onto their sanity," says McBride.

"The dog they bring here in their arms is the only thing they have left."

This segment was produced by The Current's Cathy Simon.