A small group of volunteers is working to get pets out of homes in the evacuation area around the Tantallon fire.

Amy Wells started the Facebook group, HRM-Tantallon Wildfire Lost Pets.

“Animals are our families, they deserve as much consideration, they’re living and breathing and they deserve as much as a chance as anyone else,” Wells told reporters outside the St. Margaret’s Centre in Upper Tantallon on Tuesday.

“And it doesn’t matter if it’s your amphibian or your bird, or your beloved pet fish, we’ll do what we can.”

The group has a list of animals in homes, sourced from the Facebook group. Wells and the other volunteers talk to the homeowners about where the animals may be hiding in the homes and how to get in, using access codes or open doors. Then Department of Natural Resources and animal control workers go into the homes and look for the animals.

“We do what we can, then they bring the animals back to us and we’re in constant communication with the families, so we contact them and then we transport the animal from our home base at the command post and then we bring them to the families down the road,” Wells said.

There’s also a veterinarian working with the group nearby.

“We’ve done a fair amount. There’s happy and sad stories,” Wells said.

Peppa the Pig is a happy story: a pet pig who was left outside in a pen and rescued on Monday.

“We were just expecting cats and dogs but we ended up with a pot belly pig,” Julie Clarke, another volunteer, told reporters.

Two women, one wearing a hat and glasses, are seen on a sunny day.
Amy Wells and Julie Clarke, volunteers with HRM-Tantallon Wildfire Lost Pets, speak with reporters outside St. Margaret’s Centre in Upper Tantallon on Tuesday. Credit: Zane Woodford

Wells said it’s been difficult telling people their animals weren’t found.

“Any life lost, when you have to tell them there’s no life, it doesn’t matter how, it’s heartbreaking,” Wells said.

“We can never comment on the homes. We have a lot of people question about the homes we can’t comment.”

Animals are resilient though, Wells said, and even when homes are lost they may find a way out.

“There’s no saying that they didn’t get out,” Wells said. “So once the dust settles, there will be people looking for their animals as well and we will hopefully be able to help.”

Clarke works with the SPCA too, trapping feral and stray cats, and is compiling a list of cats and other animals who were outside when the evacuation happened.

“We will have humane traps and we’re making a list to be able to hopefully recover those kind of when things die down and we have access to be able to search for those pets as well,” Clarke said.

“Hopefully there’s got to be even more better stories.”

Wells said they’d already recovered dozens of pets on Monday, and the list for Tuesday was five pages long.

Click here to visit our Nova Scotia wildfires resource page.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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