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Update on Fort McMurray’s Animals


Fort Mac re-entry 2

The first wave of Fort McMurray residents has started re-entry into the area. Continued efforts on behalf of Alberta SPCA, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew, Edmonton Humane Society, Red Deer SPCA and Calgary Humane Society have helped with animal evacuations, temporary sheltering and re-unification efforts.


The Fort McMurray SPCA, the region’s only animal shelter, has also been back on the ground assisting with the rescue operations, including:

-Re-opening the shelter to provide temporary housing for rescued pets prior to their transport to the pet evacuation pickup centre.

-Collecting and utilizing the in-shelter supplies for rescue efforts and kenneling of a wide variety of pets.

-Using their in-shelter veterinary clinic to provide medical treatment for animals in need.

-Gathering hundreds of pet rescue requests and incorporating them into the RWMB pet rescue process.

Fort McMurray SPCA has also been planning for the immediate and long-term supports that companion animals and local pet owners will require as they start re-entry into the community.

The immediate Fort McMurray SPCA re-entry plan includes:

-Strategies for keeping pets with their families, regardless of their housing status.

-Providing health and safety support to pets as they re-enter, many of whom have experienced less than ideal housing conditions in locations or situations which may compromise their health or, in the case of animals rescued from the community post evacuation, have experienced trauma and transport conditions that can may put them at risk of health issue or complications as they return home.

-Providing pet kits to impacted owners to assist in meeting the needs of their companion animals upon their return, including the basic supplies needed for their animals. Kits will be distributed through an online request form to ensure that pets who are most in need receive support first.

-Long-term supports, including food and basic supplies. The FMSPCA is currently in discussions with food distributors and other companies to determine their ability to provide, donate and transport items that will be needed in the months to come to assure food and healthcare security for pets throughout the region on a longer-term basis as the community recovers and rebuilds.

One of the biggest long-term challenges that faces the FMSPCA is the necessary improvements to the shelter that were already slated for a capital campaign just weeks before the fire. These critical improvements have now been put in jeopardy not only by the smoke damage and bio hazard damage the shelter sustained during the fires, but also their limited ability to fundraise through local channels. With the expected increase in owner surrenders and decrease in adoptions over the next 3-6 months, capital improvement will be essential to the recovery and stabilization of the FMSPCA, which includes essential safety improvements to dog runs, isolation areas, kennel improvements and expansion – and, most importantly, addressing the lack of HVAC infrastructure in the shelter, which makes disease control, heating and cooling challenging.

CFHS has received numerous calls asking about how to donate to the rebuilding efforts and where the greatest need is. Please donate directly through the FMSPCA website here. If you would like to donate pet care supplies, please check the Fort McMurray SPCA Facebook page for an up-to-date list of what is most urgently required.

We will send more updates as we receive them. Once again, a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has reached out to offer help and supplies and to everyone who mobilized to rescue animals in Alberta.

Barbara Cartwright

CEO, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

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