Pitt Meadows firefighters are helping with fire breaks near 100 Mile House.

Pitt Meadows firefighters are helping with fire breaks near 100 Mile House.

Dog whisperers, calm friends fleeing firestorms

Two from Maple Ridge help out pets at Kamloops evacuation centre

The original plan was to get on to the frontlines somehow, fighting forest fires in the Interior, but red tape quashed that.

So Lucas Mandin and Nathan Sands spent last week helping out the four-legged friends who also fled the fires.

“They’re scared and upset,” said Mandin, just back from a week at the Sandman Centre arena evacuation centre in Kamloops, where he worked 22-hour shifts, helping people in the daytime and comforting canines at night.

People who had been evacuated from 100 Mile House or Williams Lake streamed into Kamloops in recent weeks. While their owners slept on cots indoors, the dogs were put into pens outside in large convention tents.

The evacuation order for 100 Mile House was lifted on Saturday, allowing people there to return home.

“These are dogs that have never been in kennels before,” said Mandin. “They’re people’s pets. They’re scared, they’re upset. The whole thing affects the animals as much. They’re all out of their homes too.”

Thunder storms added to their animals’ fear, another reason for them to howl and bark which is where Mandin and Sands came in. They walked the dogs during the day and stayed with them at night.

Mandin was helping out the large-dog section with some aggressive pets that included pit bulls, mastiffs and Rottweilers.

There were about 25 in the large-dog section another 35 smaller dogs, plus 40 cats, chickens, chinchellas, ferrets and goldfish and a fresh litter of puppies.

“Those were the people that were strong enough to remember to bring their animals to get them out because a lot of animals got left behind.”

He plans on returning for another stint.

“We got really connected with them in the five days that were there. They were listening to us.”

Mandin said that Kamloops is doing a lot to help the evacuees.

“I think the people of Kamloops have banded together. The support for the evacuees, the animals, it’s crazy. It makes you want to move there.”

He met one person from Surrey helping out and a few from Victoria.

“Up there, there wasn’t too many people we heard of from the Lower Mainland,” he said.

“I think we’ve really fallen out of touch with our fellow man down here. You know how Maple Ridge is with the homeless situation. There’s no compassion left, it seems.

“With Kamloops, it was like a whole other world there. It was like a foreign country.”

 

Residents returned Saturday to                                 100 Mile House after the                                 evacuation                                 order                                 was lifted.                                Contributed

Residents returned Saturday to 100 Mile House after the evacuation order was lifted. Contributed