By Pam Doyle
The natural disaster that flooded many Canmore and Exshaw residents out of their homes on Thursday spared the Bow Valley SPCA animals, making it a Noah’s Ark of sorts.
Town of Canmore officials opted to evacuate the neighborhood including the animal shelter as a precaution due to immense flooding on both sides of Cougar Creek. They closed all roads going into the area. Because of this, the BVSPCA was landlocked for two days.
The animal adoption centre is situated on a parcel of fenced land in the Elk Run industrial park near the intersection of Bow Valley Trail and the 1A Highway to Exshaw. The major flooding at Cougar Creek was a kilometre away, but it left the BVSPCA high and dry.
No one, including BVSPCA staff, could get into the area.
No one, that is, except for former BVSPCA president and current board member Lauren Laming, who lives nearby and has a key. Laming was evacuated from her house, so she set up a temporary home for herself, her dogs Kayla and Shadow and her cat Jasmine, at the BVSPCA. Bylaw exempted her from the evacuation.
Laming’s actions were an immense help to the animals, as she was on site to feed and care for them when no one else could get there. Five dogs, about 20 cats and seven kittens depended on her. Since she has never worked a shift as an Animal Care Attendant, Laming made several calls to centre manager Sonya White and ACAs, to learn what the procedures were.
During her stay, Laming, who runs Rocky Mountain Wedding Planners, fed and watered the cats and dogs, let the dogs out and cleaned litter boxes. One of the challenges she met was introducing herself to Pippa, a large breed bull mastiff/pit bull mix who is friendly to staff and her friends but is not so sure about strangers. Laming had never met her before, so she was concerned when it was Pippa’s turn to go outside.
“Under Sonya’s instructions, I propped open the back door, then opened Pippa’s room and stood still in the hallway,” Laming said. “I didn’t want to show any fear.”
Much to her surprise, Pippa was friendly.
“She walked up to me and licked my hand,” Laming said. “Then she walked outside, peed and walked right back into her room. She was hungry and wanted her breakfast.”
Laming gave a sigh of relief and for the next two days, Pippa was her best friend.
Another challenge Laming faced was giving ultra friendly, loving senior cat Casey, who is diabetic, his insulin shots. He gets one in the morning and one at night with meals.
“I had to phone Sonya to figure that out but he got his shots,” Laming said.
Natural gas and the furnace had been cut off so there was no hot water or heat at the centre, and Laming was running out of food.
During this time, Facebook was abuzz with a constant stream of information. Townsfolk were sharing updates and helping each other out. People were offering their homes to those who were displaced. A few residents opted to stay in their homes as they were far from the floodwaters but still in the evacuation area. One of those was Tracey Wilkins, who opened her house to others who were displaced.
After some online communication with an ACA, Wilkins arranged for her guests to house their cat Teddy at the BVSPCA because her partner Steve is severely allergic to cats. So her friends Cecile and her husband, children Charlotte, Jerome and Jack walked to the centre to bring Laming some food and Wilkins’ yummy chili, and helped do a round of animal care. Later, BVSPCA volunteers Yvonne Law, Esther and Markus dropped by to help and Barb from Cake Creations brought Laming a heater and food.
During this time, Laming was fielding a stream of phone calls to the BVSPCA. She took in one sopping wet stray dog named Champ and two cats who were displaced. All the animals were later happily reunited their owners.
By Saturday afternoon, after several attempts to drive to the BVSPCA, White was escorted in by Town of Canmore Bylaw. She brought Laming food and supplies and started catching up. By that night, an ACA also gained access and worked the evening shift with White. By Sunday, the centre was fully open and ready for business.
The BVSPCA is run entirely on grants and donations from local and distant supporters. If anyone is interested in helping to keep the centre running, they can make a monetary donation by visiting the centre, or on online at www.bowvalleyspca.org.
––Pam Doyle is a professional photographer running her business, www.pamdoylephoto.com. She lives in Canmore with her German Shepherd Creed, the first dog adopted from the BVSPCA.