As we’re all well aware, the late summer months are the peak of “wildfire season”. Most families have some sort of evacuation plan, but are your pets part of your plan? Fires, whether they are grass fires or house fires, can start and travel very quickly. Having a written out and practiced plan is the best way to keep you and your entire household safe.
First and foremost, never leave your pets behind in the event of an evacuation. Even if you may not think a fire will actually reach your home, your pet could escape and be lost in the confusion. Make sure your pet has a collar/harness and a leash securely fastened on them with ID tags attached. It is always wise to have your pet micro-chipped as well. Microchips are very small identification devices inserted under the skin of your pet. Most veterinary hospitals and animal shelters have scanners that will read the identification number and can be entered into an online database. Be certain to keep your contact information updated in this database so you and your pet can be reconnected in the event you become separated.
Every household should have an “Evac-Pack” readily available in your home and all members of the family should know where it is located. Items to include are: a pet first-aid kit, seven days of dry or canned pet food and bottled water, liquid dish soap and disinfectant, disposable garbage bags, feeding dishes and water bowls, extra collars and leashes, photocopies of medical records, a two week supply of any medication your pet requires, a carrier for each pet, disposable litter trays and litter, paper toweling, toys, and blankets. It is also a good idea to have a list of boarding facilities and pet-friendly hotels available should you need to be away from home for an extended period of time.
If you’re able, try to obtain a “rescue-alert sticker”. We have them available for FREE at the clinic. These should be placed in an area easily visible to rescue workers (for example: on or near your front door) and list the types and number of pets that reside in the home, as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian. In the event that you evacuate your home and take your pets with you, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker.
After a traumatic experience, our pets may show signs of post-traumatic stress even after their lives go back to normal. Watch them closely to see if there are any behavioral changes and consult your veterinarian if you notice anything concerning. Animals whose environment was altered should be kept on a leash when taken outside as they may become more easily disoriented or confused.
Most importantly: know your evacuation routes and include your pets while practicing them. You can never be too prepared!