When a natural disaster hits, the first thing that probably comes to mind is packing a bag and evacuating with your family. Chances are, you have a plan – or at least the idea for a plan – to get everyone out safely, but what many people miss in the process is what to do with their four-legged family members. Sadly, in the mess of trying to get out of an area in time, pets are often left behind to fend for themselves. This was the case when rampant wildfires broke out in Fort McMurray, Canada, luckily one kind individual stayed behind and took on the task of caring for the pets who had been left behind.

Fort McMurray resident, Lee Ellis opted to remain in the town until the rush of residents leaving calmed down and ended up feeding the local pets! Ellis’ endeavors started after his friend who was stuck in a different town asked him to check in on his cat. After doing this, he posted on Facebook and subsequently received a number of requests from others to help their pets as well.

During this time, he passed his days biking to 20 different homes to give food, water – and a lot of love to cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, and birds. “They weren’t only starved for food and water, they were starved for attention,” Ellis told host Chris Walker on Daybreak South.

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Soon Ellis had a few other happy volunteers helping him care for the animals. They needed to travel on bicycles to avoid the police who would make them evacuate the town.

According to CBC Canada, Ellis described his experience helping pets was “surreal,” and said that a house that stands out in his memory was one that they discovered had four dogs inside. “We went to the garage door and it slid open, and then all the four dogs ran from the house into the garage and they were happy to see us,” he said.

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While we certainly don’t recommend going against official orders to evacuate in a time of disaster, Ellis’ story is truly inspiring. We love to see animal lovers going above and beyond to help animals in need!

Remember, disaster can strike at any time, so having a plan is critical! Click here to read more about what you should do and prepare in case of emergency.

All image source: Lee Ellis/Facebook