Pets in Danger: Wildfires Force Evacuations in Yellowknife and Kelowna

Melissa David, executive director of Parachutes for Pets based in Calgary, Alberta, is working around the clock to help pets from Yellowknife and Kelowna, as both cities face the threat of wildfires. With the declaration of a provincial emergency in British Columbia and the evacuation order issued for Yellowknife, residents are fleeing for their safety, often leaving behind their beloved pets.

David and her team have been providing supplies, foster homes, and emergency vet care for the pets. Some animals have arrived with smoke-related coughs or injuries from hot spots. The organization is also ensuring that all pets are up to date with vaccinations before placing them in boarding facilities. So far, around 400 pets have been taken into their custody, with about 250 placed in foster homes. David anticipates at least another 100 pets will come their way.

The challenges don’t end with the evacuation. Not all evacuation sites and hotels allow pets, so many pets have to be placed in foster care. However, owners maintain contact with their pets and foster families to feel more at ease. The organization is making sure that every pet has everything it needs until they can either return home or find more permanent accommodations.

To prepare for emergencies like this, David urges pet owners to create an emergency kit for their pets with essential supplies, current photos and descriptions, medications, and medical records. The government of Northwest Territories permits pets on flights during evacuations, but there are restrictions. Pets must be crated or harnessed and held close at all times.

Other pet rescue organizations, like Veterinarians Without Borders, are also stepping in to support with supplies, including crates. Small communities surrounding Yellowknife, like Fort Smith, have also been affected by wildfires, and the owners of a local pet store, Anna Gervais, are providing assistance to pets in need.

Despite the challenges and obstacles, these organizations and individuals are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the pets affected by the wildfires. The communities are coming together to support each other and lend a helping hand.