The Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network is calling out for help after last week’s windstorm caused thousands of dollars of damage to the West Coast’s only animal shelter.
CARE co-founder James Rodgers told the Westerly News a large spruce crashed down around 5:40 a.m. on Nov. 17, followed by several other trees, which all missed buildings and animals, but destroyed the facility’s fencing.
Rodgers said that a roughly three-metre high fence that keeps companion animals from running off and a six-strand electrified perimeter fence that keeps predators, like wolves, bears and cougars away, were both obliterated.
“We’ve designed it in such a way that everybody inside is safe and our wild neighbours on the outside are kept safe, but what’s happened is these trees have crushed both the electric and the chain link fence so we need to rebuild those before the area is secure again,” he said. “We’re busy clearing the debris and looking to start rebuilding soon and get back to even better, hopefully, when we’re done.”
The damage forced an evacuation of the facility, which was sheltering five animals at the time.
“With the fences compromised, we just couldn’t keep anybody here,” Rodgers explained.
Local foster homes were found for some of the animals while Rodgers drove a dog to the SPCA in Port Alberni.
“Where we could, we put them in foster homes. Really, this facility is only one piece of the puzzle to making sure everybody’s healthy and safe in the region,” Rodgers said. “I can’t say enough about the incredible work that our foster network does. We have a great need to increase that network…People come and go from the Coast, so we’re always hoping to add more fosters in because people do move away from time to time. We have a whole range of needs and types of animals for fosters so, whether somebody has had animals for their whole life, or if they’ve never taken care of an animal, we can probably find a good match to get them started and work with them to help more animals in need.”
He added that one dog’s guardians were found as the evacuation was underway. The dog had been found roaming the night before and CARE was alerted and picked the animal up.
“They were staying overnight here, but fortunately we tracked down the owners and were able to reunite lost dog and distraught dog parents,” Rodgers said.
He added it can be difficult to find an animal’s guardians, especially if the animal is found roaming outside of a community, like the junction site between Tofino and Ucluelet.
“Whether that’s somebody living close-by, whether they’re in a tent or a camper trail, or if it’s a visitor and their dog or cat has gotten away when they stopped for a quick break at the junction, it’s always hard to tell who the guardians might be and where to look for them,” he said.
He said CARE casts a wide net, reaching out through social media as well as to local businesses and he urges anyone who has lost a pet to contact CARE at 250-266-9663.
He said he was heartened to see volunteers rise to the occasion and prove the West Coast’s “compassion and generosity” in the shelter’s time of need.
“Before noon, we had three chainsaws working out here thanks to the volunteers. It really is just an incredible community out here on the Coast of compassionate people that are ready and willing to help. It’s just amazing to me,” he said. “It really is warming to know that so many people have the animals’ backs. When we get into these situations, the community really does pull together. I just love living here; it’s amazing.”
He estimated that CARE works with roughly 500 animals a year from companions like dogs, cats and chickens to injured wildlife like birds and racoons
“Really, the list is quite long…Everybody receives food and water and the attention they need, including many walks a day for the dogs and we have volunteers that also come by for training and cuddle sessions,” he said. “Our primary goal is to keep families together so, whenever possible, we try to work out a solution where the animals can get home, but where that’s not possible, we work with other organizations and do adoptions ourselves when needed.”
Anybody interested in helping out either through donations to rebuild the fencing or becoming a foster home for lost pets is encouraged to reach out to CARE through its website at www.CareNetwork.ca.
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