Elder reunited with lost dog weeks after wildfire destroyed his home in Lytton First Nation
Byron Spinks had almost given up hope Baby would be found
More than three weeks after a wildfire tore through his community and burned down his home in Lytton First Nation, Byron Spinks has been reunited with his dog who went missing in the blaze.
The elder had almost given up hope his "fur baby" would ever be found after he was forced to flee the raging fire on June 30.
But on Friday, 23 days after Spinks and his partner last saw four-year-old Baby, they were reunited after discovering the dog had been given food and water by emergency workers.
"It was quite a shock to us because we didn't expect her to be here with us and we were just about ready to give up hope," he told CBC News on Sunday.
Lytton First Nation and the nearby village of Lytton, B.C., were mostly destroyed by the fast-moving fire, which killed two people and forced hundreds to evacuate their homes.
Spinks said he went to the checkpoint outside the community every day after the fire to inquire if Baby had been seen.
On Friday, a neighbour whose house survived the blaze contacted Spinks on Facebook to say they had found his dog. Baby had eluded capture but had been helped by firefighters and emergency personnel, who left out bowls of water and food for evacuees' missing pets.
Spinks said he was grateful for the people who took care of Baby. He also thanked his neighbour who left their back door slightly ajar, allowing Baby to finally find shelter.
When he finally visited Baby's temporary home, he said she immediately ran into his arms.
"As soon as I called out her name, she stopped in her tracks and ran up to me and we hugged each other," he said of the tearful reunion.
"She was crying more than I was, essentially, but I was crying out of happiness for her."
Having his dog back, he said, gives him hope for the future of his community to "put the pieces back together," too.
Spinks is optimistic they will rebuild with stronger fire protections, better structures, green space and plans for improved co-ordination between community leaders.
"Our family is complete now," Spinks said. "Although our house is gone, we can rebuild. We're just taking it day by day for now, but it makes it a lot easier with our little fur baby here."
Some firefighters with the B.C. Wildfire Service previously confirmed they had been giving evacuees' animals food and water whenever they could.
In one Facebook post, a firefighter assured another Lytton dog owner his colleagues "gave them fresh clean water [and] puppy chow" and promised they "will check on them."