Animal rescue service makes saving animals from flood zones its mission

A Montreal-based animal rescue service has been very active in the flood zones in recent weeks, retrieving pets that have been left behind by people evacuating their homes.

Isabelle Vachon-Girard with the group Animal Emergency and Rescue Service says there've been more than 150 animals rescued from abandoned homes.

"Mostly, I would say it's cats," Vachon-Girard told CJAD 800's Andrew Carter. "We have cats, dogs, we have exotic animals such as rabbits, birds, turtles...we also rescued a skunk...not a pet skunk, but it was a skunk that was stuck on a piece of wood surrounded by water."

Vachon-Girard says they've also rescued no less than six chickens, but most of the rescues have been of cats and dogs.

Some of the cats, she says, are the shy variety — the ones that often run away and hide when confronted with strange humans.

"So there's two types of cats. Either they will come toward you and run and say 'save me, save me!' And there's that kind of type that will say, 'I'm going to hide for the rests of my life until this is over.'"

The latter type often get taken by force and put into cages, she says, but she points out her group is well-trained in animal welfare techniques.

Before they can get to taking their speedboats onto the water to rescue the animals, they have to get clearance from authorities to take the boats into the restricted zones. 

Vachon-Girard says, regrettably, that some of the animals they're asked to find are dead by the time they arrive — many of them tend to be older cats who can't handle the stress of change. 

"I would say three or four [were found dead], so far, out of 150," she says.