Friends Stay Behind In Fort McMurray To Keep Animals Fed, Safe During Wildfires Aftermath

Residents Lee Ellis and Terry Cyr spent four days searching homes for animals to care for and feed.

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Lee Ellis helped feed animals left behind during Canada’s Fort McMurray Fire earlier this month. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook
Lee Ellis helped feed animals left behind during Canada’s Fort McMurray Fire earlier this month. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook
John Virata

Fort McMurray, Canada, resident Lee Ellis, and all other residents, was ordered to evacuate as a wildfire engulfed parts of that city earlier this month. But to avoid the throng of residents trying to get out, Ellis and his friend Terry Cyr decided to wait for the rush of people leaving to subside. During that time, another friend asked him to check on his cat, Ellis told CBC Canada.

As he fed and gave water to the cat, Ellis heard dogs barking in another back yard.

“So I went and knocked on the house. No one was there, so I proceeded to take those three dogs and I brought them to my house,” he told CBC Canada.
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A pet bunny fed and given water during Canada's Fort McMurray Fire earlier this month. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook

A pet bunny fed and given water during Canada’s Fort McMurray Fire earlier this month. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook

Ellis then posted onto his Facebook page what transpired and things snowballed as more folks shared his post and asked him to check on animals, houses and even businesses in the city. Ellis and Cyr spent four days checking homes in the city, looking to care for animals that were left behind.

“They would give me their door codes,” Ells told CBC of the folks who contacted him via Facebook. “They would tell me where the food was. There were only a couple of incidents where I had to feed them out of my own supply.”

As Ellis canvassed neighborhoods looking and listening for animals in homes, when he found a home with an animal and could feed and give the animal water, he would post on Facebook the address of the home to let the owners of the animals know that their animal was fed.
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Terry Cyr with a seemingly terrified little dog that they were able to feed and give water to. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook

Terry Cyr with a seemingly terrified little dog that they were able to feed and give water to. Via Lee Ellis/Facebook

“The support and the thanks were overwhelming on my Facebook page. It was unbelievable. It helped me keep on going when I was too tired to go,” he told CBC News Canada.

He told CBC News Canada that the four days he spent helping the animals was “surreal.” And the one house that stands out from his service to the community? A garage full of four dogs, eager for attention.

“We went to the garage door and it slid open, and then all the four dogs ran from the house into the garage and they were happy to see us,” he said.

“Their faces were elated,” he added.

As were all the folks whose animals benefited from two selfless men who knocked on an estimated 300 homes to help out dogs, cats, rabbits and even a pet fish in need.

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