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British Columbia

Maple Ridge vet volunteers to help animal fire victims

Heading there to treat animals after a devastating fire at the Urban Safari Rescue Society in Surrey, the Maple Ridge vet warned his staff to expect the worst.

after dr Adrian Walton volunteered his time Monday night to see many reptiles and other animals, he left feeling relieved and definitely impressed by the work of the volunteers washing and grooming the survivors.

He treated 15 to 20 of the worst off animals, giving them painkillers and antibiotics. He’s optimistic his patients will make it.

Saturday morning’s wildfire killed about 60 animals — guinea pigs, frogs, geckos, birds and more — and shut down the business. It was caused by a power surge that damaged a heating unit in the snake tank despite a surge protector. The fire caused extensive damage to the front of the building. It filled the animal rescue facility at 176th Street in Surrey with thick smoke.

“The good news is that those who survived are in pretty good shape,” Walton said. “For the extent of the damage, the surviving animals are doing remarkably well.”

Now staff and volunteers will be watching her for any symptoms, particularly breathing problems, that may develop in the coming days. Some have damaged lungs.

He explained that reptiles are inherently uniquely equipped to survive a smoke fire that would kill other animals. A mammal will run away from a fire, but a reptile’s instinct and best bet is to “squat down and try to survive it.” Your bodies go into a frozen state of reduced metabolic activity, and slowing your breathing rate helps limit the damage from smoke inhalation.

“They can survive fires where a mammal cannot,” Walton said.

The vet also diagnosed a society that appears determined to get its animal rights activists back to health. The animals were cleaned and black ash was flushed out of their mouths to stop them breathing. He saw volunteers whose clothes and faces were covered with black soot marks.

“They are doing everything in their power to ensure their animals recover and I commend them for the time and effort they put in,” he said.

Walton works with numerous nonprofits and rescue organizations and was personally disemboweled by the fire.

“They will face great financial burdens in the near future during the reconstruction. Please consider making a donation to her gofundme,” Walton asked.

The online fundraiser has raised approximately $30,000 so far to help the community recover from the fire.

– With files by Tricia Weel, Black Press

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