FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The worst of the heatwave is over, and the North Peace SPCA staff have been doing everything they can to keep animals cool.

The task has been easier in the dog kennels than the cat facility, says Manager Candace Bucharmer.

“The dog kennels, thankfully, are made of brick, which tends to stay a bit cooler. We’ve been able to manage the temperatures in there fairly easily with ice buckets, freezing food and treats,  cooling their blankets, and allowing lots of dips in the doggy pool,” says Bucharmer.

“Unfortunately, we’re quite high in cat numbers. Right now, we have 50 cats that we are trying to manage. We do have air conditioning in the cat facility, but with the overload of cats coming in due to heat exhaustion, heatstroke symptoms, and even just coming back from fosters without air conditioning, the physical body heat from everybody is keeping it warmer.”

Even though the temperatures have dropped to more manageable levels, Bucharmer says nearby businesses have offered up their air-conditioned buildings for animals to cool down.

“We moved some of the kittens to Pet Valu. I explained that we’re just so overwhelmed with animals that we literally have nowhere left to put them. They were awesome, and they stepped up big time for us. Three of our little adoptable kittens are down there, cooling off.”

Bucharmer says, unfortunately, British Columbians still aren’t getting the message about leaving dogs in hot cars.

“Provincially, there were over 5,500 calls for dogs left in hot cars. Our part-time officer and our new full-time officer have been running non-stop. They had over 100 calls come in, spread out over the last two days. It’s common sense, or it should be, that in these temperatures, you just don’t do it.”

The North Peace SPCA branch is always in need of donations, says Bucharmer.

“One of our freezers has broken down, so that was a big workload on the other freezer. We’re looking for baby scales because a lot of the animals we have right now are moms with litters of kittens. As we find a foster with a basement or A/C, we need to send those scales out to ensure that their weight is gaining and they’re staying healthy as they transition.”

Bucharmer says the staff’s spirits have been buoyed by generous residents dropping off cool drinks and sweets.

“Our office has been sitting at 36 to38 degrees Celsius on those hot days, so it’s exhausting by the time you leave. Having people come down with some surprises for us definitely helps lift the spirits and keep us going.”