Manitoba animal rescuers focused on helping pets left behind after wildfire evacuations

A volunteer-driven Manitoba animal service is doing what it can to help pets left behind in northern communities after their owners have been evacuated due to wildfire concerns.

Melanie Chudyck, clinic coordinator for the Manitoba Animal Alliance, told Global News that the people fleeing the communities would take their animals with them if they could, but it’s just not possible in many cases.

“There’s not enough infrastructure to remove both people and their pets from the community,” Chudyck said.

“In most cases, people who are being evacuated from the north are being evacuated to Winnipeg … and those animals are being left behind in the communities to fend for themselves.”

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Read more: Feds approve military help to fight Manitoba wildfires

Chudyck said her organization is working with community leaders to make sure food is sent to communities where animals have been left behind.

“Typically, when people are removed from a community — when they’re evacuated because of something like these wildfires — there are a couple of people left behind that are community caregivers, so those caregivers are being sent food donations, old ice cream pails, so they can put water out for animals.”

The caregivers typically know which animals are still in which homes so they can check on them and provide care. But in some communities, the evacuation has been so complete that there’s not even a community caregiver available.

In many cases, she said, members of nearby communities have been offering their help, and the Manitoba Animal Alliance’s volunteers have been diligently collecting supplies to ship north — to the point where their entire food store has now been depleted.

On top of desperately needed food donations, the group is also looking for volunteer fosters who can temporarily care for those animals that are able to be flown south.

“We need volunteer fosters, so when we do bring in animals from remote communities, there are safe homes for them to stay in,” she said.

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“Our volunteer network right now is about 100 people, so there’s a very good team in place.”

As the wildfires continue unabated, the federal government approved the use of the military on Tuesday to help combat the blazes.

“This year, summer wildfires are well above the seasonal average,” defence minister Harjit Sajjan said in a social media post.

“In response to a request for assistance, up to 120 Canadian Forces personnel will help firefighters extinguish hot spots on contained fires and build fire lines to contain priority fires.”

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