When wildfires caused more than 1,700 people to be airlifted from Canada’s Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations in May, they were forced to leave their pets behind, leaving hundreds of dogs and cats stranded on their own and desperately in need of help.
Norway House Animal Rescue in Winnipeg set a goal of sending about 28,660 pounds of pet food to the First Nations—between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds per day—and it had about 1,984 pounds on hand, all of which it donated toward the rescue.
Now, Champion Petfoods is donating 26,455 pounds of dog and cat food—enough for 75,000 meals. Champion’s shipment of its ORIJEN and ACANA pet food arrived via float plane at the First Nations. The donation will help Norway House reach its goal and, most importantly, provide food for the dogs and cats out there alone until their families return.
“When we heard about the dogs and cats separated from their families due to these devastating fires, our entire team was heartbroken,” says Frank Burdzy, Champion Petfoods president and CEO. “At Champion, we’re all passionate pet lovers, so we knew we had to help. Our hearts go out to the Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations, and we want to thank Norway House Animal Rescue for its tremendous work bringing pet food to dogs and cats in need. We hope our donations make a difference to the dogs and cats in the First Nations—and to the Pet Lovers waiting to see them again.”
The Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations are small communities in Manitoba, northeast from Winnipeg. With the help of the Red Cross, Indigenous Services Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, the community was evacuated in late May after a fire about 20,000 hectares large—almost half the size of Winnipeg—approached.
“We’ve hit a crisis point, but a donation as big as this will take off the pressure of finding food for these pets,” says Debra Vandekerkhove, director of Norway House. “Now we can focus on getting into these communities to help the dogs and cats. We’re getting pleas for help from people showing us photos of their pets and asking if they’re all right. Now, we can feed these pets and take photos back to their families, and say, ‘Here’s your dog; he’s OK.’ There’s no better feeling in the world than knowing we’re saving lives.”
Norway House is accepting donations of pet food, as well as dishes and bowls for the food.