B.C. SPCA launches new pop-up units to care for pets during emergency evacuations

·2 min read
The B.C. SPCA's two new emergency units can be deployed to help pets in emergency situations when their owners have to evacuate their homes. Photo depicts a B.C. SPCA volunteer sitting with a pet separated from its owner during a previous wildfire season.   (B.C. SPCA - image credit)
The B.C. SPCA's two new emergency units can be deployed to help pets in emergency situations when their owners have to evacuate their homes. Photo depicts a B.C. SPCA volunteer sitting with a pet separated from its owner during a previous wildfire season. (B.C. SPCA - image credit)

The next time a flood or fire forces British Columbians to evacuate their homes they can take some relief in knowing that Fido will be cared for wherever the family ends up.

The B.C. SPCA has created two new emergency pop-up units that can be deployed wherever disaster strikes in order to accommodate cats and dogs in need.

The well-stocked containers, similar to shipping containers, are filled with kennel fencing, medical supplies, food and accessories like collars, leashes and food bowls.

One is currently in Kamloops, the other in Prince George, and, according to Geoff Urton, spokesperson for the non-profit, they are both ready to roll out at a moment's notice.

"The thought for people of having to leave their animals behind I think is just heartbreaking," said Urton, during an interview on CBC's Daybreak North.

Veterinarian Cailtin McLagan cares for dogs after a previous evacuation in B.C. The new mobile units are a response to needs noticed during wildfires in past years.
Veterinarian Cailtin McLagan cares for dogs after a previous evacuation in B.C. The new mobile units are a response to needs noticed during wildfires in past years. (B.C. SPCA)

Urton said the idea to create such containers was sparked after previous wildfire seasons, particularly in 2017, when B.C. SPCA staff and volunteers went to emergency rescue sites to help care for animals and had nowhere to store the donations that poured in for the pets.

He said there was also a scramble to assemble essential supplies before heading out to help. These new units eliminate that initial panic.

"The new reality of wildfires every year ... we've realized we need to scale that up," said Urton about the organization's relief efforts.

Another important reason for the new units, said Urton, is because sometimes people are hesitant to evacuate if they think they have to leave their pet behind or don't have a plan for where to go with animals when seeking shelter.

Eliminating that worry, he said, means no one will be putting their own lives in jeopardy.

Urton said the projects are funded by donations and due to limited resources the B.C. SPCA is not able to look after livestock when evacuation situations arise.

Livestock owners, he said, should be prepare in coordination with their industry associations and the Ministry of Agriculture.

LISTEN | Geoff Urton on the new deployable B.C. SPCA emergency units:

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