RCMP feed hungry pets left behind in rushed Chemawawin Cree Nation evacuation
RCMP officers receive messages of gratitude from community for tracking down, feeding animals
When a wildfire forced residents of Chemawawin Cree Nation from the central Manitoba community last week, some pets were forced to stay behind, but animal groups and RCMP officers came to their rescue.
Last Thursday when Chemawawin was evacuated, Const. Katherine Sansom and Cpl. Dana Harris stayed behind to protect properties and belongings. They noticed that there were a lot of dogs on the streets, so they started to feed them.
"There [were] a lot of dogs that needed to be fed," Sansom said. "Probably about 100 dogs, I would say, a couple cats and a couple guinea pigs."
In an effort to keep owners involved and up to speed, Sansom posted a picture on the Chemawawin Happenings Facebook page to let folks know that their animals were being cared for.
RCMP entered homes to feed pets
That inspired even more pleas for help, including requests to enter homes where animals were trapped indoors.
"The owners were actually contacting us, as well as Norway House Animal Rescue (NHARN), pleading that we went in and fed their pets that were inside without food and water," Sansom said.
Wherever permission was granted directly from owners, Sansom entered homes to help feed animals inside.
NHARN organized rescue efforts from out of Winnipeg. With help from several animal groups, vehicles were packed with food and medication for animals. Manitoba Underdogs Rescue and CAARE Rescue arrived on site Sunday morning to distribute the supplies.
"It's been very busy. The community has been very welcome of our help," Debra Vandekerkhove, the director of NHARN, said Monday.
'Community was so strong'
Band councillor Derek Packo confirmed that both he and the chief of Chemawawin Cree Nation approved of the efforts, and said he is thankful for all of the help to their community.
"The community was so strong," said Sansom. "Having to leave everything at such a short notice ... I know a lot of people weren't able to bring their pets with them, because they took buses and such, so to be able to help out the people and to get the messages that we've received of gratitude from them, it was amazing — especially being a pet lover myself."
Vandekerkhove said she was very impressed by the RCMP officers.
"They work so hard," she said. "Even on their time off, they were out there. I'd message them and they were out there, getting into that house, getting those animals taken care of, going around the community, feeding and watering. It was great."
NHARN is currently out of food supplies, but once they get more, the plan is to continue feeding hungry pets.
Help for evacuees
In addition to assisting the animals left behind in Chemawawin, NHARN helped evacuees in Winnipeg. In response to emails and requests for assistance from those who fled with their pets, NHARN brought food and supplies to both the Radisson Hotel and the Holiday Inn to help them out.
The Red Cross assisted NHARN to help co-ordinate supplies distributed in Chemawawin and in Winnipeg.
Over the course of the weekend, Vandekerkhove said upwards of 300 animals were helped overall.
Vandekerkhove hopes that this incident will be a lesson for future evacuations.
"There absolutely has to be a pet companion aspect attached to any sort of evacuation plan," she said.
"I'd like to see that actually happen, and for them to be included in any sort of teamwork or team training, so that this sort of incident doesn't occur where we are all scrambling last minute to try and help as many animals as we can."
The emergency evacuation order for the community was expected to be lifted Monday.