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Fort McMurray Horse Evacuation
 By Winniefield Park   •   28th May 2016   •   3,365 views   •   2 comments


In other places, the last few days may have been marked by Cinco de Mayo celebrations, or maybe Chocolate Custard, Respect for Chicken or Intergalactic Star Wars Day were appropriately marked. But, for the residents of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, a community of just over 61,000, the beginning of May has been a nightmare. A wildfire began on May 1, and by May 3rd, it destroyed about 1600 homes and forced the evacuation of almost 90,000 people as the blaze threatened more neighborhoods and the surrounding areas.

Governments at all levels, many aid agencies and others are contributing what they can to both fight the fire, which as I write still burns out of control, and assisting the residents as they evacuate. Evacuating for many, has meant making quick decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. Many have left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing because the evacuation order left them with no time to leave their jobs and get to their homes. Sadly, this means, along with all their possessions, pets too may have been left behind.

Realted; Hay Banks And Help For Horse Owners

The Fort McMurray area has several riding stables and there are private horse owners who keep their horses on small acreages. This isn’t really horse country. The climate is ‘sub-arctic’ and the terrain is rugged. There is plenty of bog, and crown lands - owned by the federal government (hence the people of Canada) are wilderness. But there is a small horse community. And, with the wildfires raging, they like so many others, are making hard decisions.



Those with a truck and trailer at their disposal, may join the other residents to take to the road - a single highway connects them to Edmonton to the south. Clearwater Horse Club, a stable with about 100 horses, according to their Facebook page, has evacuated all of their horses with trailering help from other nearby facilities. On Twitter and Facebook, those who can offer space for any livestock are doing so.

Others have saddled up, and ponied extra horses out of harm's way. One photo that has gone viral shows a young girl riding her horse alongside bumper-to-bumper traffic while her father trailered their two other horses to safety. With the snarled traffic caused by those getting out of the area, horse owners found themselves waiting for trailers that weren’t going to make it in time. Some reached what they thought was a safe place, only to re-evacuated.

Young girl riding her horse alongside bumper-to-bumper traffic
Fort McMurray teen rides horse out from wildfire evacuation

Yet others have had to turn their horses loose and hope for the best. The advice given to those who have no way to move their horses has been to fill the water troughs and open the gates. Owners are relying on the survival instincts of their horses to see them through the crisis. And they are turning to social media to reach out to anyone who might give them news about their animals.

Even after the flames are extinguished horse owners will not be through with the fire. Horse’s lungs are very delicate and horse owners in the area have had to deal with smoke inhalation damage after a smaller fire went through the area a few years ago. If structures are lost and pastures damaged, there will be plenty of hard work in the months ahead.

So while our hearts go out to everyone affected by the fires roaring through Fort McMurray, it’s a good time to consider how we would handle a similar situation. Recent ice storms, floods and other natural disasters have shown us that we need to be ready for emergencies. We need to know how to look after ourselves, and how to do the best we can for our four-legged companions.
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Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
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How is Canada coping after this devastation?
  Jun 7, 2016  •  3,473 views
 
Winniefield Park  
Canada is a huge country, so those of us on the Eastern side aren't greatly effected by happenings on the other side. That said, I don't know anyone who isn't concerned about the fire and hasn't made some sort of effort. I've donated to the Red Cross, although some have gone into action and filled their trucks and trailers with water and other supplies and headed west. People there are slowly returning to their homes, and like so many have had to do after a disaster of this type, are already rebuilding. And, I'm sure there are lots of lessons in how to cope learned along the way.
  Jun 14, 2016  •  3,442 views
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