GHP June 2017

22 GHP / June 2017 , 1705GH01 At the Forefront of Animal Welfare Advances The Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Alberta SPCA) has recently received GHP’s Top 25 Animal Health andWelfare award for its continued animal welfare work. Alberta SPCA has been at the forefront of animal welfare advances since it was founded in 1959. Alberta SPCA is a registered charity committed to the welfare of animals. Its head office is in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It encourages the humane treatment of animals through enforcement of animal protection legislation and education programs throughout Alberta, Canada. “We were instrumental in establishing the Animal Protection Act of Alberta in 1967,” said Roland Lines, communications manager at Alberta SPCA. “The enforcement of the Animal Protection Act continues to be one of our main services. We employ 11 peace officers who have authority under the Act to run investigations into suspected animal neglect and abuse and to take actions to help animals in distress.” Alberta SPCA receives important support from its donors and from members of the public who report animal welfare concerns. It also collaborates with a range of agencies in animal welfare, agriculture, education and violence prevention to provide the best level of protection for animals. For instance, Alberta SPCA’s humane education program works with primary, secondary and post-secondary schools throughout the province. More recently, Alberta SPCA launched a pet safekeeping program to help victims of domestic violence escape their abusers. “We are very proud of our continuous animal welfare work and delighted to be recognised internationally for what we’re doing here in Alberta, Canada,” said Lines. Alberta SPCA’s contribution to the Fort McMurray, Alberta, wildfire evacuation In 2016, the Alberta SPCA successfully led an effort that reunited almost 1,200 pets with their owners after the forced wildfire evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alberta. “When evacuees from Fort McMurray began streaming down Highway 63 on May 3rd, it was obvious that a huge effort would be needed to save the pets many people were forced to leave behind,” said Lines. “We called the emergency program director for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry right away to offer our assistance.” On May 5th, Alberta SPCA staff started receiving calls from evacuees whose animals were still in Fort McMurray. They wanted someone to know where their animals were located so they could be rescued. The Edmonton Humane Society, the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society and several other animal rescue groups were receiving similar calls. These organizations worked to consolidate their lists and pass them on to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Animal Control Services, which was managing the animal rescue efforts in Fort McMurray. Later that day, Wood Buffalo asked Alberta SPCA to send up two peace officers to help with its rescue operations. On May 6th, Wood Buffalo officially asked Alberta SPCA to set up a facility in Edmonton where the municipality could send all the pets from Fort McMurray. By then it was clear that residents would not be returning to Fort McMurray for weeks. The two Alberta SPCA peace officers in Fort McMurray went house-to-house with the animal rescue teams. They located and secured people’s pets in their houses, assessed their condition and provided them with food and water. Meanwhile, Alberta SPCA staff in Edmonton had two days to establish an animal evacuee reception centre. Alberta SPCA leased an empty warehouse and worked closely with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to identify what resources were needed and how to handle the animal intake, identification, triage and ongoing care. The first transport of animals arrived in Edmonton at 3 a.m. on May 9th. It was a trailer full of 205 cats and 44 dogs, all in travel carriers. Over the next 12 days, another 943 animals were evacuated from Fort McMurray and transported to the temporary facility in Edmonton. After being identified and health checked, they were then taken to their boarding areas. When the last transport of animals arrived on May 20th, a total of 1,192 animals had been taken in and 815 had been reunited with owners. Although the reunions continued, it had become a slower process because the remaining owners