It's terrifying enough to have a house fire, but imagine finding out there's a wildfire approaching with little to no warning. This is exactly what the residence of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada had to experience recently.
People living in this 125,000 plus community had to evacuate when the report of a dangerous wildfire was burning its way toward their area. Some folks were only able to flee with the clothes on their backs, while others were at least able to get their pets out in time.
However, the fire was just the first of many problems these displaced folks would encounter. With so many people being left without shelter, the airlines were jammed trying to accommodate the influx of outbound passengers…and their pets.
Animals big and small, feathered, furry and scaley were all in need of transportation out of the danger-zone. Airlines are usually quite specific about the way you can transport pets; unless they can fit under the seat in a pet-safe carry-on, they must go into the cargo hold, safely secured in travel kennels.
But two airlines were willing to waive these restrictions and allow people and their companion pets onto their flights. WestJet and Canadian North's coach seating area were both jammed packed full of pets and their relieved owners.
In fact, pictures have been flooding the pages of social media on this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime experience, showing happy animals in their close-quartered seating. These photos are labeled with the heartfelt thanks of those grateful pet parents.
The wildfires are continuing to burn their way across Alberta, albeit at a slower pace. So far over 580,000 acres have been destroyed. These fires have taken homes, businesses and countless numbers of wildlife and family pets. It is estimated that 600 family pets were lost or forcefully abandoned when the evacuation took place.
For those people that had no other choice but to leave their beloved fur babies behind, we offer you our sincerest regrets and still hold out hope that they may be recovered.
If you have lost a pet in this terrible tragedy, we encourage you to visit the special website dedicated to these beloved animals. The Fort McMurray Animal Rescue Map is a place where you can list your missing pet's information so people can be on the lookout for it.
A wildfire is a different situation from a house fire, but what if your home were to be engulfed in flames? Do you have a plan on how to get your pets out safely?
It's important to make and practice a fire escape plan with all your family members and the family dog. Although, your pooch may panic if the situation arises, he will be more apt to follow his humans through a practiced escape route. In addition, be sure to affix pet alert stickers to let fire rescue workers know there are animals in the home that may need rescuing.
We always have to be prepared for life's unpleasant occurrences. Practicing fire safety and fire evacuation plans in your home may just save you, your family and your beloved pets.