6 min read

Hundreds Of Pets Have Been Left Behind In Deadly Wildfire

The city may have been evacuated, but some of its most loved residents somehow managed to stay behind. And now everyone is trying to rescue them.

As the exodus continues - and thousands of people are convoyed out of Alberta's fire-ravaged oil region - another massive rescue effort is only just beginning.

"There's so much involved because so many people have animals," R.J. Bailot of the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"Think about the thousands of people being evacuated - there's going to be thousands of animals that are being displaced too," he added.

Many pets were left behind in the rush to leave the city, as emergency workers were not allowing residents to return to their homes until the danger had passed.

Allison Wiseman had to leave downtown Fort McMurray without her best friend, a dog named Cuddles.

"She's in an apartment and she's been in there without food or water for more than 24 hours now," a distraught Wiseman told Calgary Metro.

Local rescue groups have been overrun with animals in the fire's wake, while phone lines are tied up with calls from anxious owners looking for their pets.

"I've tried everything," Wiseman said. "I'm pretty lost right now. I don't know what else to do."

Some people defied evacuation orders and returned to their homes to rescue their pets. Others, as this Reddit user claims, broke into neighboring homes to remove trapped animals.

One 16-year-old girl even rode her beloved horse more than 10 miles to safety.

"At this point there is no one who is going into the homes because it hasn't been declared safe yet," Bailot told CBC News. "People are becoming desperate and it's sad - because we don't have any answers for them."

But there's also a growing wave of hope, as countless agencies, rescues and charities from across the country, and even the U.S., step into the breach.

Veterinary clinics across Alberta are opening their doors to assist Fort McMurray animals in need of immediate help - you can view a map of their locations here.

Airlines have also joined the massive effort to leave no pet behind.

Canadian North, a commercial carrier servicing the region, is earning high praise for mobilizing its fleet to evacuate people with their pets.

A Facebook page called Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance has also sprung up to help coordinate rescues and reunions. The group already boasts more than 8,000 members.

If you think an animal may still be trapped inside a home in Fort McMurray, you can fill in an Animal Assistance Request form here.

While organizations mobilize on the ground, there are many more ways you can help the four-legged victims of this tragedy.

For a complete list of resources - from how to foster a displaced pet to how you can donate much-needed items like crates to the relief effort - click here.

You can also support the Fort McMurray SPCA's efforts to reunite pets with their owners by making a donation here.

Watch a shocking video of the Fort McMurray fire below: