Edmonton

Hundreds of abandoned Fort McMurray pets rescued

Pets Fort McMurray evacuees were forced to leave behind are finally being rescued from the fire-ravaged community.

200 cats and dogs arrived in Edmonton early Monday morning

Michael Sadowsky, an evacuee from the Fort McMurray wildfires, is pictured kissing his cat Dexter after they were escorted through Fort McMurray on Friday and arrived in Wandering River. (Reuters)

Hundreds of pets that Fort McMurray evacuees were forced to leave behind are finally being rescued from the fire-ravaged community.

Peace officers from the Alberta SPCA and the Calgary Humane Society have been working tirelessly in Fort McMurray over the last two days to help Wood Buffalo Animal Control Services to remove all of the animals abandoned in the city-wide exodus.

The critters are being transported down Highway 63, and will be cared for at an emergency holding facility in Edmonton until  they are healthy enough to return to their owners.

Hundreds of pets Fort McMurray evacuees were forced to leave behind are finally being rescued from the fire-ravaged community 2:25

The first truckload of more than 200 dogs and cats arrived in Edmonton early Monday morning. More exotic pets like snakes, gerbils and guinea pigs will soon follow in the next round of caravans.

"It was wonderful to see the truck pull up, and they started to pull the animals off," said Roland Lines Communications Manager with the Alberta SPCA.

"They were noisy but it was really good to see that happen."

Firefighters and first responders had been providing food and water to any pets left behind, and Lines says that added assistance has kept most of the animals in good health.

"People were very happy as they were unloading the truck. The animals certainly look healthy, and on first view there was nothing serious, but they will need to go through the proper triage before we know for sure,"

However, Lines says hundreds of animals were left behind when the community was evacuated last week, and it will take days before every last one is moved out of the city.

"We can't do this in one day. We expect this to be a long process."

The location of the emergency holding facility is being kept confidential for now as processing gets underway, but Lines says pets will be reunited with their owners "as soon as possible."

Anyone who was forced to abandon their pet during the evacuation of the Fort McMurray area should ensure they have filled out the Emergency Pet Rescue Request form.