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A black and brown dog stands on the grass

RCMP officers help rescue dog from rapidly approaching wildfire near Cranbook, British Columbia

RCMP officers helped rescue a dog named Three-Leg from a fast-moving wildfire near Cranbrook, British Columbia Credit: Terry White


On the hot, dry afternoon of July 17, 2023, a wildfire sparked by downed hydro lines spread rapidly toward the First Nations community of ?aq'am. The RCMP responded to an urgent call around 3 am from the community requesting emergency help to evacuate residents.

Amidst the urgency, families left behind not only their belongings but also their pets. One such companion was Three-Leg, a cherished community dog born with three legs.

Canines in care

A black and brown dog sits in the back seat of a car next to a cardboard box.

Three Leg was one of several pets that RCMP officers helped bring to safety during a wildfire near Cranbrook, B.C.

RCMP officers who remained in the community learned through a Facebook post that Three-Leg's owner was asking for help to locate the dog. With the owner's permission, Corporal Alistair Peers, Corporal Monte Webb, and Corporal Eldene Stanley of the RCMP's Indigenous Policing Services searched the owner's home and found Three-Leg cowering under the stairs in the basement.

"She was visibly shaking when we found her. Apparently, she gravitated towards females, so I crouched down and tried to speak with her softly," says Stanley. "Corporal Webb then lifted her up and placed her in the back of the police cruiser. As soon as she was in the back of the car, her tail started wagging and she perked right up."

The three officers brought Three-Leg to a veterinary clinic, where other rescued pets were being cared for. While there, Three-Leg was reunited with her mother, Bubba. Bubba had been safely evacuated days earlier in the back of a police cruiser. But at the time, Three-Leg could not be seen.

"They were so happy to see each other. You could already tell they were starting to thrive," says Stanley. Once Three-Leg was deemed in good health, she was reunited with her owner who was overjoyed to have her safely back.

Return home

"I don't know how the dog survived," says Terry White, Three Leg's owner. "She had no water, no food, she hadn't seen anyone for days, and there was little to no oxygen in the home. If it weren't for Corporal Webb, she'd be gone. Six homes in our reserve were devastated and I almost lost my own home, too, but my family is OK."

After 21 days of anxious anticipation, the First Nations community of ?aq'am received the news they had been waiting for. With the efforts of first responders and rescue organizations, residents were finally able to safely return home.

"We're slowly rebuilding our community after the devastation," says White. "But I am grateful that nobody on the reserve was hurt. All the animals survived, too. I can't thank those officers enough for what they did."

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