For those who live in or are lucky enough to visit Fernie on a regular basis, we are blessed with the great outdoors and an endless number of outdoorsy things to fall in love with. And so, with the abundance of outdoor activities, comes a demographic that could be described as mountain lovers, snow lovers or perhaps even pet lovers.

Fernie is home to hundreds of faithful hounds and cuddly cats amongst many four legged or other animals, each one with a special place in a number of people’s hearts. Which is why Pierre DuPont decided in 2008 to set up ferniepets.ca. Their tagline is “The Wayward Pet Bulletin Board” and it is just that. Ferniepets.ca is an online lost and found service for pets in Fernie and the surrounding area and proves often on a daily basis, an invaluable resource for locating those loved ones.

Speaking with Pierre, he plays down his integral role of starting up this site, instead praising Kevin McIsaac who built the site and Maren Esch of Barkside Pets whom is often essential, amongst others, in the pet relocation business. It’s successful because of volunteers, but it was Pierre who started this online tool and who continues to manage it. I asked him a few questions to find out more…

Why did it all begin?
For a very simple reason it seems. “Because there are so many missing pets in town. Having a website is much better than a poster and it gives people something to look at.”

Do you find that pets go astray at certain times of the year?
“No.” There seems to be no pattern in when animals go astray, “but it definitely comes in random waves.” Pierre openly admits that it’s harder to locate cats over dogs, but thinks there is probably about an overall 80% success rate of putting owner to animal – not bad considering the potential hazards, natural or otherwise, that are in our neighborhood.

What should someone do if they loose a pet?
“First they have to register on the site.” They do this to avoid spamming and to keep posts relevant. “People need an email address to register and once registered they can post their pet’s details.”

I see on the site you have a donations button?
There is the option to donate online to this worthy cause and it seems that donations would go to an invaluable tool to help this team even more. “The idea behind the donations was to eventually buy a chip reader.” A sensible move, but ones that can read multiple types of chips and so being the most useful, comes with a large price tag.

Where do the pets that have been found go?
Pierre laughs. “I’ve probably had 12 random dogs stay at my house over the two years.” And he isn’t alone. Maren at Barkside often takes care of pets overnight and then keeps them at her store until the eternally thankful owner turns up. “Maren also supplies food for them overnight sometimes. We don’t have foster homes and such.”

Would foster homes help and what should people do if they want to foster?
“Yes it would be great to start a list.” It’s hard taking a dog home sometimes as you can’t be sure of the dog’s temperaments and whether they will get along with your dog, so foster homes would really help. “Just email me or contact Maren if you can help.”

What should someone do if they find a pet?
Another laugh, “Go to Maren’s, she’ll probably recognize it!” And then of course post details on ferniepets.ca.

I also popped into Barkside Pets to see Maren and get the inside scoop on the wayward pet scenario and it seems that Pierre is also the inventor of the Doggie Socials that run in the summer in Fernie – a chance for dogs to play off leash together and showcase the usefulness of the now three off leash parks. We also discussed a mutual friend’s recent success story via ferniepets.ca.

Kathy Conlin has had her dog Penny for many years. An older pup, who doesn’t normally stray too far from home, strangely jumped ship when let out late one night for a pee. Strange and concerning for sure, however Kathy continued to check online and soon enough a post appeared with a strangely familiar sounding dog, found about 50yds from home. Penny had spent a luxurious night it seemed and wasn’t entirely convinced she was quite ready to go home, “She was a very happy dog,” says Kathy, who describes ferniepets.ca as “awesome”, removing the need to put up lost dog signs all over town.

So there we have it, a great resource in this animal filled town. But it’s a resource that relies heavily on both people’s awareness and kindness. If you have the time and ability, then get on the foster list or donate whatever you can, to help this resource become even more successful in years to come. Chances are high that the shoe could probably be on the other foot one day, as the Fernie pet population continues to grow faster than you can say “WALK!”