June 7 update – Yesterday a SCARS team was back up in the Wabasca area checking on pets and feeding horses. A big thank you to Sandy from our partner, Athabasca Vet, for sharing some of her personal hay supply!
June 5 update – As heavy equipment and firefighters continue to strengthen control lines along the east side of the fire near Wabasca, animals not in direct danger are still being cared for in place. If there are any changes or concerns for their health/safety, they will be evacuated. Of the 283 animals extracted, 55 remain to have their owners identified! If you are a pet owner that has not yet spoken with the Alberta Animal Disaster Response, please fill out the assistance request form. A reunification center is planned to be set up in the community for owners to pick up their pets once the evacuation has been lifted and it is safe to do so. Thank you to Alberta Animal Disaster Response and all other groups and individuals who have helped during this time.
June 3 update – Teams were in Bigstone Cree and Wabasca again yesterday and finished clearing the areas most at risk. If you live on Hwy 754, Yellowknee/Brule road area, Cattleman Drive, Simon Road and have not yet filled out the forms for assistance please do so that we can match you with your dog/pet! (Even if you have seen them in a photo as rescued, we need the form with contact info) They are being cared for at one of the evacuation centers until the evacuation is lifted but we need to determine owners as soon as possible so plans can be made to reunite them with you. Animals in other areas are being cared for in place, fed and watered by rescue teams, RCMP, or fire department members. Please follow updates at Alberta Animal Disaster Response.
June 1 PM update – Yesterday, continuing into today, was a long day in preparation for a possible wind shift today that may jeopardize areas of BigStone Cree. Please keep the fire crews, RCMP, bylaw, coordinators and everyone helping in your thoughts tonight. As we raced against the dark late last night they were sharing locations of animals or collecting them as they went, spraying down houses and yards, making sure we had supplies we needed. There is a strong network working for the safety of all residents, including pets. We could not be more proud of our volunteers who dropped everything, sometimes at a very last minute request to make the long drive North and help with the evacuation of animals from the most at risk areas. 24 hour days, opening their house as a command center, sending the whole family to walk dogs and build crates – you all amaze us with your dedication. Thank you to the Alberta Animal Disaster Response for organizing a location to house the animals and help owners reunite with pets. Please visit this page to find forms to report pets that need assistance or offer help.There will also be updates of if/when any assistance is needed but right now they would like to remind everyone to stay out of the evacuated area. We will continue to do what is needed to protect the pets of our partner community in the days going forward and thank you all for your support.
June 1 AM update – Evacuation orders force people to make unthinkable decisions. You must leave the area and you must leave immediately. Animals are often left behind, not because their families abandoned them, but because they were not able or allowed to get them. Hard lessons from other disasters created the Alberta Animal Disaster Response team. This is an experienced team that can help retrieve pets and reunite them with their families. Since our late night drive to rescue the pound dogs and cats, our volunteers continue to work nonstop with the Disaster Response team. We are bringing beloved pets to the Animal Evacuation Center in Athabasca.
We are going to need donations to help out with the rescue mission. Please donate today at scarscare.ca/donate.
May 31 update – What a difference a day makes! Yesterday was terrifying filled with smoke and crates and desperation. Transport and many miles of driving in the night. The humans were all gentle and patient with us, even when we felt panic and didn’t understand. When we struggled, they soothed. When we went to run, they held on tightly. When we cried, they told us it was going to be alright.
Today is a new day, filled with so many amazing things. Dishes filled with fresh water and a seemingly endless supply of food. Comfortable beds and safe places to sleep. The humans are different again, but they are still telling us it is going to be fine and our lives have forever changed for the better. It is almost like the rest was a bad dream or maybe a nightmare… but sadly we know it was all very real.
Let us introduce ourselves, three of the lucky 12 that SCARS saved. Cali, the lone feline in the group so beautiful and sweet. Brasher a happy guy fitting in perfectly to his new foster home. Ember, her name acknowledging the devastation we escaped.
Our wagging tails and steady purring show our gratitude for all that we have been given. We hope the rescuers working in the community will be able to help the other animals left behind.
Brasher… Cali… Ember
May 30 PM update – A dozen lives saved. The overnight efforts of the SCARS team resulted in 12 beautiful animals reaching safety. These stray dogs and cats, through no fault of their own were in two different pounds in the affected communities. With the evacuation order in place they had nowhere to go and no one, except our devoted SCARS team, had them as a priority.
Two of our volunteers made a three-hour drive into the evacuation zone. Armed with transport crates and determination, combined with assistance from local bylaw and the use of another truck from a community member, our amazing volunteers set about their rescue mission. Eleven dogs and one lone cat were loaded and secured, all the while our volunteers could see the eerie glow of flames over their shoulder and the choking smoke burning their eyes and lungs.
Once loaded they joined the line of traffic heading out of the area, driving back and arriving home around 3 a.m. Greeted by two more volunteers, some animals were transferred to a waiting van and continued south to join foster families. The remainder temporarily settled into our Athabasca intake facility.
We know there may be more difficult days ahead as the fires rage, but today we celebrate this small victory. The SCARS family is grateful to our frontline volunteers for their efforts. We are also grateful to the brave firefighters doing their best to protect these communities.
May 30 AM – Last night as the evacuation call went out for the Wabasca and Big Stone Cree Nation, SCARS volunteers jumped into action. The community pounds were at capacity and the animals so vulnerable in the face of a raging wildfire. With full support of the community and evacuation officials, our volunteers headed north. Lineups of vehicles headed south and the SCARS truck was one of the few driving through the darkness towards the glowing red smoky sky.
Challenging conditions with heavy smoke, heart pounding anxiety as the very real danger of the fire loomed nearby, our volunteers wasted no time securing the at risk cats and dogs. Finally they were able to fit the last crate into a vehicle and make the long drive to safety. At the same time other volunteers drove through the night to our Athabasca intake facility to transfer some of these scared weary souls to foster homes in our network. Exhausted, our front line volunteers once again make a life and death difference in the lives of the most desperate.