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System needed for pet rescue in disaster situations and answers for Ft Mac pet owners

This petition had 776 supporters

Authorities and rescue groups have assured people that they have been going door to door in Fort McMurray, rescuing people's pets, and yet hundreds of pet owners are still desperately searching for their pets, making inquiries with the various agencies rescued pets have been sent to, filling out paperwork again and again, and still receiving no answers and, for many, no indications their pets have been rescued.

It has been nearly a month since the evacuation and many are still waiting to find out if their pets have been rescued or not. One lady filled out paperwork 3 times, putting in her first request mere days after the evacuations and many times since then, to have a rabbit left behind at a daycare rescued. Three weeks later she found out that the rabbit, named Honey Bunny (pictured above), had died of starvation and dehydration, still locked in it's crate in the daycare, no one coming to check on it or provide food or water, despite her many, many requests.

Some have filled out the forms, indicating the number of pets in their home, only to find out that half the number of animals they indicated were in their home were rescued, and the others who were left behind starved to death because rescuers didn't accurately review information before entering the homes to ensure all pets in that home were brought out safely. Rescuers have had to return to homes in some cases in order to rescue the pets they missed the first time, lucky if they found the pets still alive, and unfortunately not all were.

Animals that were rescued were sent all over the province to SPCA's and Humane Societies, and animal welfare groups in Edmonton, Lac La Biche, Calgary, and Red Deer. Animals posted on some of these agencies aren't even being labeled as having been rescued from Fort McMurray, making the search that much more difficult for the people searching for them, all without knowing if their pet was even rescued, or if they might return home to Fort McMurray to find the bodies of their deceased pets still in their homes.

For those involved, this situation is heart breaking. These people have been through hell and back. Many have lost their homes, and jobs, and now have lost their beloved furry family members, their pets. They have to search through multiple websites, unsure where their pets might have been sent, if rescued. Many of the agencies the pets were sent to will not even allow people to view the animals in person themselves to determine if their pet is there. Others do not indicate whether or not the pets posted on their websites are from Fort McMurray, so pet owners have to sift through hundreds of pictures of animals, not knowing if the animals in the photos are local animals, or Fort McMurray rescues. Following that, the Alberta SPCA took over the rescue efforts from local rescue agencies and refuse to provide any updates or news on whether further progress is being made in terms of rescuing more animals, so now pet owners are left in the dark, still wondering whether their pets are alive or dead. These people need answers!

While some rescue agencies have done amazing jobs and deserve commendation on getting in to Fort McMurray to rescue pets, and others, such as the Red Deer SPCA, have done excellent work in receiving and caring for these pets in their owners absence as well as actively providing information to pet owners, posting accurate photos with all information needed on their websites, and helping reunite owners with their pets, there are still many unanswered questions and people need to know where their pets are and if they have been rescued.

This petition is calling for an update from the Alberta SPCA for pet owners from Fort McMurray. Pet owners need to know exactly what cities and agencies animals have been sent to, if rescue efforts are still continuing and in what areas of Fort McMurray. This is also a call to the Edmonton Humane Society to correctly label rescued animals on their website as Fort McMurray rescues so that pet owners searching for their pets can know whether the photo they are looking at is an Edmonton pet or a Fort McMurray pet, as so many pets look the same. People are grateful for the rescue efforts that have been done so far, but many are still without answers and spend every day waiting, wondering, and dreading what they might come home to.

And finally, this is a call for the Alberta Government to develop a better system for rescuing pets from disaster zones in the future. This tragedy has highlighted many gaping holes in our current system of pet rescue following disasters. A system needs to be implemented to stop this situation from repeating itself. It took over a week to allow rescuers into the city of Fort McMurray to even begin rescuing pets. Almost a month later those rescue efforts are still ongoing and so many evacuees are still waiting to find out if their pets were rescued. Rescued animals were shipped randomly all over the province with no identifying information such as addresses they were rescued from or at least neighborhood areas they were rescued from. Forms that were provided for pet owners to fill out were lost and had to be filled out multiple times because of lack of an organized and efficient system. If plans are in place to rescue humans from disasters, there should also be an organized and efficient plan for rescuing the pets that mean so much to so many, and reuniting them with their owners.

To anyone who loves animals and loves their pets, those pets are family. These pet owners from Fort McMurray have done what was required of them to have their pets rescued, and many are still left without answers. While everyone involved is very grateful to the agencies who have been out there working to help rescue pets, and those that have taken in and cared for pets, many are still waiting, hoping and searching, and their patience is wearing thin.These people deserve answers.

Change is needed!

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Michelle Buchanan needs your help with “Alberta Premiere Rachel Notley: System needed for pet rescue in disaster situations and answers for Ft Mac pet owners”. Join Michelle and 775 supporters today.