Merritt 'pet detective' rescues animals from evacuated homes, reunites them with owners
Mountie reached out on social media to locate owners of pets left behind
More than four years into working with the RCMP in Merritt, B.C., Const. David Feller has received a new title: pet detective.
On Tuesday, the Mounties named Feller their "very own pet detective" for helping save pets from evacuated homes and reuniting them with their humans, who were ordered to leave Merritt on Nov. 15 after a state of emergency was declared due to flooding.
Feller says he has rescued more than 100 pet birds, cats, lizards and hamsters, fostering them for one to two days before returning them to their owners, whom he tries to locate with the help of social media.
"I was happy to help these folks," he said Tuesday to host Shelley Joyce on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.
"I know that a lot of them left [their homes] with very little possessions, and it's pretty hard for them to leave behind their animals … so I figured I could just return a little bit of comfort to their lives."
About 1,500 Merritt residents have been allowed to return to their homes on Tuesday as part of the city's three-step "Return Home Plan."
Kimberly Jylha says she left her Maine Coon cross at her place in Spring Island Mobile Home Park, near the north bank of the Coldwater River. She says she appreciates Feller's help in feeding the cat with pet food donated by local businesses.
"Knowing that there's somebody out there looking out for him just makes it a little bit easier to get home," Jylha told CBC in a separate interview.
"[Feller] is an amazing man … he needs to be recognized for what he's doing."
Nikki Stapleton, also a resident of Spring Island Mobile Home Park, says she's grateful for Feller rescuing her pet fish.
"He rescued my fish, brought the fish tank, the pump and everything to safety … [he] managed to save three out of the four fish and then delivered them to a friend's place," she said. "He would risk anything to check it out and rescue the fish — that's incredible!"
Lower Nicola, B.C. resident Taylor Cox thanks Feller for bringing the cats of her grandmother, who has lived in Merritt for six decades, to the local SPCA.
"He's just been doing amazing work," Cox said. "Cats mean everything to my granny that she cares about them more than humans."
Feller says he continues to work with the SPCA to search for animals left behind, and ensure they are well fed and cared for until their humans return home.
With files from Daybreak Kamloops and Jenifer Norwell