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Mount Royal University professor researching how to improve evacuation of pets

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Mount Royal University professor researching how to improve evacuation of pets

A researcher is asking how we can handle the evacuation of pets as good as people.

Kimberly Williams, from the Centre for Community Disaster Research at Mount Royal University, is interviewing people directly involved with the rescue and reunification of pets who were lost during the wildfire.

Though her research is only half way finished, Williams tells Mix News through talking to people affected, she’s found a few common themes.

“People who were not on the ground, not considered first responders, not considered in the know, wish there had been more communication around where their pets were, who knew where their pets were and if their pets were being taken care of.”

Fort McMurray residents from vet clinics to The SPCA have shared their thoughts with Williams about what kind of change they’d like to see implemented; From a system alerting first responders of pets in homes to mandatory animal registration.

During the wildfire, SPCA, First Responders and many spontaneous volunteers did their best to reunite animals with their owners.

Williams says one of the problems evacuated animals faced was a lack of qualified volunteers to care for them.

“They needed more skilled people than just people like me who could be like ‘I could pet the kitty’, who cares, we need somebody who can do particular things.”

Williams hopes to learn from the best practice in place to make it better should a disaster strike again anywhere else.

She says with the unfortunate disasters like the wildfire in the RMWB and Slave lake and the high river floods that have fallen on the province, now is the best time to facilitate change.

“Alberta is really well positioned to be a pioneer in this field of changing the culture of emergency management and disaster to incorporate Pets because they’re part of people’s families.”

Williams hopes to present her findings in a more formal fashion when her research concludes in May.

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