As victims of Monday’s devastating Gastown fire pick up the pieces of their lives, the BC SPCA is offering to care for their pets, free of charge.
The animal welfare organization said emergency boarding was available for anyone displaced by the fire that engulfed the Winters Hotel, which contained dozens of social housing units.
The SPCA has already taken in five cats and two kittens from the hotel in single rooms.
Jodi Dunlop, director of the Vancouver branch of the SPCA, said she works closely with Atira Housing Society’s pet awareness program. Within two hours of the fire, a staff member from the housing agency arrived with two cats and a rat.
“Then we discovered there were five other cats in our veterinary clinic across the street receiving treatment for smoke inhalation,” Dunlop said, adding that one of the cats had a serious injury. To the mouth.
Since their initial treatment, the animals have required constant monitoring.
“Due to the heavy smoke on the animals’ hair, we need to perform a decontamination process by bathing them and making sure they are clean and their airways are clear,” Dunlop said. “It’s a lot to really monitor these cats for sneezing or breathing issues.”
Mufasa is one of the cats cared for by the BC SPCA after Monday’s fire in Gastown. (SPCA)
A mother cat and her two kittens are now in foster care as they are too young to be at the branch.
According to BC Housing, 144 residents were displaced by the fire which broke out on Abbott Street and sent huge plumes of smoke over downtown Vancouver.
About half lived in the Winters Hotel, which suffered extensive damage and will have to be demolished, while the others live in a nearby single-bedroom hotel which suffered smoke damage. Dunlop still expects more animals to be found in this building.
It is not known how long the demolition will take. On Friday, the City of Vancouver said CTV News staff expects to have a clearer schedule by early next week.
“Given the age and condition of the Winters Hotel following the fire, demolition of the building will be complex,” the city said in a statement.
“Staff are already assessing the most appropriate approach to demolish the building safely and quickly and are sourcing the expertise to execute the demolition plan.”
In addition to the pet boarding, the SPCA said it is providing emergency funding for pet food and other supplies needed by victims of the Gastown fire.
“We’re still accepting donations,” Dunlop said, suggesting people can bring cat beds, dog beds, litter boxes, dishes, dried food, canned goods and toys.
“Animals are often the only thing… people have, and that’s what keeps them going in life.”
Dunlop said the organization provided more than 12,000 free emergency boarding nights last year to victims of wildfires, floods and other disasters, as well as “people fleeing domestic violence or unable to care for their pet while in hospital.”