While many across the NWT dealt with unusual challenges during the wildfire evacuations, the NWT SPCA had a unique experience.
While many northerners were able to just pack a few bags and leave, many others had the extra responsibility of making sure their pets were safe, either by taking them along for the ride, or making sure they were held safely with a confidante. Many staff members of the SPCA made the decision to stay, as Executive Director Nicole Spencer shared.
“As per usual, unfortunately, we’re usually at capacity, so we were full and that was the most stressful time, actually. We had decided that we would stay behind. We were deemed essential by the government, and we had a handful of volunteers that were here, we had a few staff and myself and our Vice President. So we had set up a trailer with enough crates for our dogs and cats, and we were ready in the beginning to go wherever we needed to, whether it was over the highway or down to downtown away from the fire if we had to.”
Spencer explained that the SPCA’s location along the edge of the city meant that they were closer to the fire than most others, and that while their staff was stressed, they were also ready to do what it took to keep the animals safe. She adds that they would not have been able to do what they did without the help of their volunteers and whatever remained of the community at that time.
Spencer went on to detail some of the assistance they received from other animal care organizations.
“With Crooked Whisker, we secured a lot of crates that were sent up. Vets Without Borders secured many dozens of crates as well from the south and sent them up here for people that were evacuating and didn’t have a crate because that was, at one point, a very big issue, and I believe one of the biggest issues that people didn’t take their animals with them because there wasn’t any crates to be bought anywhere in town. Vets Without Borders was so helpful with the logistics of all of this. They sent up crates, they helped out people who were down in Edmonton and Calgary in many many ways.”
Members of the SPCA also made sure to take care of the animals that had to be left behind, acquiring permission from residents to enter their homes and look after their pets to the best of their abilities. Spencer finished by saying that if there are any city residents who need some extra dog food, or bedding for small animals like rabbits and Guinea pigs, the SPCA will try to provide what they have.