P.E.I.'s Ron McConnell helping with B.C. wildfire animal rescue efforts
'It’s been 16-hour days and it’s been pretty crazy,' said McConnell
A P.E.I. man is part of a team in British Columbia helping rescue animals caught up in the wildfires that have forced people from their homes.
"It's been 16-hour days and it's been pretty crazy. But I've got a pretty amazing group of volunteers under me here. It's working like clockwork," said Ron McConnell of the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team.
McConnell left Charlottetown on Saturday and arrived in Vancouver on Sunday at around 5:30 a.m. From there, he rented a car and headed for Princeton — about four to five kilometres from the wildfires — to help with the animal rescue efforts.
McConnell moved to the Island from B.C. about six months ago with his wife. They are planning to set up branches of CDART in Atlantic Canada in the fall.
On Wednesday, McConnell said the team was helping a resident transport six show horses to Vancouver. With road closures, he said the horse owner will need to travel about 40 kilometres around the wildfires.
"It's going to be a very long, very bumpy, very dusty voyage for those animals," he said.
McConnell said the situation in B.C. is tough for pet owners who have to evacuate and leave their animals behind. But, similar to the wildfires and evacuations in Fort McMurray last year, McConnell said efforts are made to help people find out what happened to their pets afterwards.
McConnell said the team has access to a facility in Princeton to store animals that are either dropped off by owners or picked up for rescue.
So far, he said there are about 25 horses, four mules and seven to eight goats at the facility as well as sheep, chickens and cats.
"We've had a real variation of animals over the last four or five days, and I'm sure we're going to get more," he said.
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With files from Laura Chapin