Lexi Anderson with a llama she helped care for at the Kamloops Exhibition Grounds. ~ Photo contributed

Revelstokian helps animals caught up in wildfires

Lexi Anderson goes to Kamloops to help care for animals rescued from wildfires

By Imogen Whale, Special to the Review

Lexi Anderson believes if you can help, you should. It’s a personal philosophy she put into action last week when she volunteered in Kamloops, where the impact of the fires raging in the interior is strongly felt.

Her focus has been the farm animals, horses and household pets.

“I started by trying to organize a hay drive and then a truck and trailer to haul horses and livestock,” she said. “Just because someone owns horses or livestock, doesn’t mean they have a trailer to move them. Come evacuation, owners have to make the call: risk it and keep their animals penned hoping the fire misses, or open the gate and set them free to fend for themselves.”

Desperate evacuees have used sharpies and spray paint to write their contact numbers on horses hooves or braided their information into manes and tails. Unable to get traction on a truck and trailer and still determined to help, Anderson drove to Kamloops to to join volunteers at the Canadian Disaster Animal Rescue Team (CDART) location for cats and dogs.

“We watered, fed, snuggled and walked the animals,” she says. “We check in new animals and send some back with their owners. We have had drop offs by people who have found pets on roadsides and some by evacuees who can’t keep their pets where they are sleeping or in their car.”

Anderson also volunteered at the Kamloops Exhibition Grounds (KXA). When she arrived, the KXA had one volunteer dealing with nine horses, three sheep, dozens of chickens, ducks, a llama and bottle baby goats.

“We organized the barn and donations so things were ready and easily accessible. Grain, hay, wheelbarrows and pitchforks, cat and dog food, grooming supplies, medical supplies, shavings for stalls, everything,” she said. “Baby goats need feeding every few hours and care has to be taken with horses who are going from grass to hay.”

Volunteers also tackled paperwork, cleaned stall, fed and watered animals and all kinds of farm chores.

Many of the animals are timid and flighty after fleeing from fire and being picked up by volunteer haulers somewhere along the road.

“They are adjusting well. Some have burns. Then there are the animals that didn’t make it out,” said Anderon. “It can be heart wrenching because people hauling know where the cattle, pigs or horses are, but they are being stopped by police because it’s dangerous.”

Anderson makes for an excellent animal/livestock aid volunteer. She has experience with animals and handling horses. However as the crisis continues, KXA is short of volunteers and anyone can help. With around the clock care needed, Anderson volunteered for 30 hours straight.

“People in Revelstoke can help on the ground,” she insists. “It’s not a far drive. You don’t have to stay as long as I did, just give them your schedule and what you can help with and for how long. I had two days and did as much as I could, but that’s not necessary.”

Even after the fires are controlled, it might be some time before the livestock and pets of evacuees can make it home and foster homes may be needed.

“I intend to go back as soon as I can,” Anderson says. This weekend she is headed back to Kamloops, following her own advice. If you can help, you should.

She wasn’t the only person from town helping rescue animals — Dan Boltwood drove up to Kamloops to transport some horses to safety in Revelstoke.

Those interested in helping can contact Lexi Anderson at anderson.lexi@hotmail.ca

For more information, visit www.cdart.org/disasters.htm and the BC’s Emergency Livestock/Animal Evacuation Group on Facebook.