As of Wednesday afternoon 11 animals including a goose, a rooster, two birds and seven dogs rescued from wildfire evacuation areas had been reunited with their owners at the BC SPCA Williams Lake and District Branch centre.
“The heartwarming part of my job is seeing the relief on people’s faces when they see that their animals are safe and well cared for,” said branch manager Liz Dighton in going over the animal rescue statistics Wednesday afternoon.
The Williams Lake shelter re-opened Saturday on a limited basis after the Williams Lake wildfire evacuation order was lifted Thursday, July 27.
Dighton, who was the only caretaker at the shelter for the first few days, said they also had five dogs rescued from fire evacuation areas whose owners have been found and are just waiting to be picked up.
She said many of the animals were found during RCMP checks of homes under evacuation orders and taken to a local veterinary clinic until the SPCA was up and running again.
Most of the reunions have been facilitated through the sharing of Facebook postings, she added.
Since the Williams Lake shelter is operating with a reduced staff due to fire evacuation orders, she is asking people who rescue animals to keep them in their care if they are able to and to post and share pictures of the animals they find on their own Facebook pages and on the the Williams Lake BC SPCA Facebook page.
“We have a lot of people grabbing posts and sharing them everywhere which has really made a difference to getting dogs home,” Dighton said.
As Williams Lake was preparing for evacuation, Dighton said all of the animals at the Williams Lake Shelter were moved to the Quesnel shelter. Since Williams Lake continues to be on evacuation alert she said animals brought to the Williams Lake shelter will continue to be moved to the Quesnel shelter.
While the Williams Lake shelter was shut down during the evacuation order she said representatives from the BC SPCA’s Cruelty Investigation department, who have official police status, came to the region to help find and care for animals that were left behind during the wildfire evacuations.
She said she received figures Wednesday indicating that there were animals found at 300 addresses in evacuation zones in and around Williams Lake that were cared for during the evacuations on their own properties by the BC SPCA members with help from the RCMP, Army members, and firefighters.
“Animals were left in place if it was safe to do so,” Dighton said.
Any animals that were in peril if the wildfires moved too close to their homes or those found wandering in the evacuation areas were taken to veterinary clinics which stayed open to care for lost and injured animals, Dighton said.
Dighton said that one friendly black dog found by RCMP officers has been getting a lot of attention and requests for adoption but she believes this dog has owners because it is very friendly and appears to be well cared for.
The Williams Lake shelter currently also has four puppies and three adult dogs along with a few cats and kittens that were found abandoned that will be sent to the Quesnel shelter for care and then to the Lower Mainland for adoption.