With thousands of hectares of the province on fire and thousands of people evacuated, the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team is turning its thoughts to the animals.
CDART is in need of pet food donations and several local stores are serving as drop-off centres, with volunteers in place to get the food and supplies to those in need.
“We are searching for pet food donations right now, and we are running low on cat food,” said volunteer Jodie Gillman. “We are only on day-three of absolute crazy fire season, and right now we are trying to find a storage container to keep everything in. We are in Falkland and we are centralized, and we have runners who will take it to Princeton or anywhere that is needed. They have horse trailers up there as well to help move animals out.”
Gillman, who started volunteering with CDART when the spring flooding began in the Okanagan, said all donations are welcome, but cat food is particularly needed, along with large crates, litter boxes, chicken feed, grass hay.
“Storage for donations is hard to find so we are looking for gift cards as well, for pet stores, hardware stores and gas stations, and we’ll also accept cash donations and can provide tax receipts,” said Gillman. “I’m an animal lover so this has really got to me. When the Fort Mac fires started, I put a fire plan in place for my pets, but this has all happened so fast.”
Donations of any kind can be dropped off at Paw Street Market and Healthy Spot Pet Nutrition & Supply in Vernon and at Country West Supply in Armstrong.
CDART volunteers work around B.C. to help get animals out safely. Volunteers respond in times of disaster and emergencies when domestic animals are in need of rescue and sheltering. The organization is run by volunteers, with 100 per cent of its funding coming from donations.
Volunteers are mobilized when local authorities request CDART’s help and when the Provincial Emergency Program’s Emergency Social Services is activated. In specific communities, CDART has longtime established teams but will answer requests for help through local, provincial and federal government agencies.
CDART is in need of more volunteers and will hold a training course — by donation — July 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Falkland library. For more information, call 250-767-0013.