GPRC’s Fairview campus became home for some important members of families evacuated from northwestern Alberta due to wildfires.
The College’s Animal Health Technology program put out the call offering to house any animals for displaced families shortly after the mandatory evacuations started in northwestern Alberta. A few days later, when the Town of Manning was placed under evacuation notice, the local veterinary clinic reached out to ask GPRC to look after the animals it had been housing for evacuees.
“We wanted to make sure the animals were safe somewhere else,” said Kaitie Koch, manager of the Manning Veterinary Clinic.
The clinic had already housed animals from families evacuated from High Level for about 10 days.
When the animals arrived on campus, GPRC’s animal health faculty and staff did an amazing job, said Koch.
“They were incredibly helpful and knew what exactly needed to be done,” she said.
Over the course of the evacuation notice, GPRC housed a total of 11 dogs, one cat and one hamster. The program faculty and staff continued any treatments the animals needed and monitored them daily to ensure they were doing well, explained Rhonda Shaw, Animal Health Technology instructor.
The animals were weighed in and weighed out, had their appetite and attitude monitored daily, and were fed and walked twice a day. The dogs all got time to run in the College’s round pen.
Volunteers would send videos and pictures of the animals to their owners so the owners knew their pets were doing OK. Volunteers hoped the photos would help reduce some of the stress the evacuees were experiencing.
“We were grateful to be able to provide some comfort by having the evacuees know their animals were safe and well cared for,” said Shaw.
Jill Gaudet’s dog Spike was one of the animals that were cared for by GPRC staff on the Fairview campus.
“I have to thank Manning Veterinary for ensuring Spike was safe by taking him to Fairview,” said Gaudet. “And thanks to GPRC for taking care of Spike. During a very stressful time, it is a relief to know your pet is safe and well-cared for.”
Marcella Parenteau was also evacuated from Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement and her dog Lolly was at GPRC Fairview.
“I’m so grateful,” said Parenteau. “Being evacuated was very stressful and scary, and having Lolly looked after in Manning and then in Fairview was a relief for me. Thank you for watching her for me.”
Volunteer students, faculty and staff at the Fairview campus provided all this help. They even had a waitlist of people wanting to volunteer.
“Staff have been amazing. We had an abundance of people helping,” said Shaw.
All the volunteers received a mini-training session before they had contact with animals.
“You were there for us in our time of need,” said Koch. “We really, really appreciated it. We know how much work it is to look after that number of animals. It took a huge stress and worry off our plate.”
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped feed, water, walk and play with the animals in our care:
- Lin Roy, Program Assistant – Animal Sciences Department
- Lisa Coady, Program Assistant – Motorcycle & Recreational Powersports Department
- Katey Johnston, RVT, Educational Lab Technologist AHT – Animal Sciences Department
- Shaylene Syrota, RVT, Educational Lab Technologist AHT – Animal Sciences Department
- Rhonda Shaw, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
- Shannon Ball, Toolroom Attendant – Automotive, Parts, & Engineering Department
- Carl Ball – Instructor – Motorcycle & Recreational Powersports Department
- Tiffany Duncan, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
- Bonnie Danielson, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
- Chris Mizzi, DVM, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
- Christy Barlund, DVM – Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
- Dayna McKay, first year AHT student
- Taryn Dodds, first year AHT student