Natural disasters, such as wildfires, can require quick and decisive actions. Planning ahead for yourself and your animals can make these devastating events more manageable and help you move with clarity.
Having a protection plan for your animals is as valuable as having one for yourself and your family in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Many people during last year’s wildfire season struggled as they scrambled to get not only themselves but their animals to safety.
Within a pet emergency kit, create a file (digital or paper) containing proof of ownership for your animals. Evidence of ownership may include your pet’s veterinary records, photos of you with your pet, their microchip (if there is one) number, and registration. This can be done with all your pets; dogs, cats, horses, cows, camels, and even that hamster that keeps you up all night.
Another safety measure you can implement is to create a buddy system with friends or neighbors. If you’re away from your home when disaster strikes, having a buddy system ensures that someone can help care for or evacuate your animals. Below, we’ve listed several tips to help you evacuate your animals.
For smaller animals or reptiles, transporting them with you may be the safest option for protecting them from wildfires. General pets, such as cats and dogs, can sit alongside you in your vehicle, though they are safer in either a pet safety harness or portable kennel. For their safety, exotic animals, such as snakes, should be put into a non-transparent container. Moving snakes and reptiles can easily stress them out; placing them in a small and dark place brings them comfort and makes them (mostly) unaware of their change of scenery.
If disaster strikes, you could be left with the choice to either take your animals with you or leave them behind. If you cannot transport your larger animals, you may be faced with the decision of letting them go to make their own escape. Mark them with phone numbers, using a permanent marker or some other sort of tag to increase the chances of them being returned to you. Phone numbers can be written on either the animal’s collars or hooves. If you leave your animals behind, do not tie them up. When you tie up an animal, they cannot escape from fire, bad weather, or other natural disasters. If you are able to transfer your livestock, local fair and rodeo grounds are often opened up to shelter animals during an emergency evacuation. Although this isn’t a guarantee, it’s best to find/create support groups for the relocation of animals in case the fairgrounds are unavailable.
For more information on preparing for your larger animals, go to Avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters.
No matter what animal you have, whether you plan to bring them with you or set them free, having an appropriate amount of food and water for them is another key component of your animal’s emergency kit. Like us, your animals can’t go forever without food or water. Any necessary medications or emotional support toy should be considered in your plan to make your animal comfortable in this time of distress.
In the event that an emergency occurs, several Facebook groups for our area were created to safely relocate animals back to their owners.
For Asking and Offering Help
Home Again Stevens County
Lost and Found Deer Park, Clayton, Loon Lake, Springdale, Elk