Wildlife, pets cared for during wildfires by Manitoba organization

As Kristin Hagen drove to Berens River First Nation, she could feel the heat from the wildfire along the road.

“It’s very hard to breathe,” Hagen said of the thick smoke in the community.

The coordinator for K9 Advocates Manitoba said she understood then why residents needed to evacuate, but left behind are dozens of pets.

Read more: Military launching firefighting assistance campaign against Manitoba wildfires Friday

The organization is working with members who have stayed in evacuated communities and is told which pets people would like brought into Winnipeg.

Given the number of animals needing to be rescued, Hagen said they are in desperate need of more pet fosters.

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“We have left some [animals] behind because we just can’t take them all,” Hagen said.

K9 Advocates currently has roughly 50 dogs and 30 cats in their care. The remaining community members are also watching over the animals that can’t be rescued due to the organization’s capacity limits.

The nonprofit relies solely on public donations of water, food, crates and other items to give to stray pets. They also rescue wildlife pushed out of their natural habitats.

Read more: Another Manitoba First Nation forced to evacuate due to wildfires, smoke: Red Cross

Once the animals are brought into the city, Hagen said they’re looked over by a vet. The biggest concern right now is smoke inhalation.

Coordinator Jackie Hanna said wildlife are becoming harder to find as she assumes they look for new places to go away from the heat as the areas they need are becoming scarce.

“The only wildlife we saw was a moose and a baby moose on the side of the road near water,” Hanna said.

It’s unknown when the organization will head back to any of the evacuated communities. Hagen said whenever they get the call that there are more pets to bring in, they’ll go.

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As of Friday, the Canadian Red Cross noted more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from five Manitoba First Nation communities.

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