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Fire Season is Coming: Are You Ready to Evacuate with Your Pets?

Fire season is on its way, and with the way things look now, we’re expecting a bad one. If you’ve been here a few years, you already know that means evacuations. You never know where or how many areas will be hit. Fires move very fast. You can’t plan on having any advance notice if you have to get out, so you need to plan now. In a future post, I will include more local info on where to go, and what to do. For now, here are some basic tips so you can start getting your pet evacuation kit together and have your pets ready to evacuate as safely and smoothly as possible.

ID, Vaccinations, and Documents

  • Now is the time to get your pets’ vaccinations up-to-date. Emergency shelters and boarding facilities require proof of current vaccines.

  • Keep your pets’ medical the records in your vehicle. You won’t have time to look for them, and you’ll probably forget, when it’s time to run. Vaccination records are a must, you should also include records that indicate medications needed and any conditions such as diabetes.

  • Get your pets microchipped! If they already are, make sure your information is current and still on record. Some registries charge an annual fee, and many do not include your pet’s information in the national database. We are holding a microchipping event on April 18th where you can get existing chips checked get them registered in the national database for free (along with photos of your pets and important medical info). If you need a new chip, it’s only $15.00.

  • Collars and tags are still a must! Although microchips are the most reliable way to get reunite with your pets, tags are still the fastest. Anyone can read a tag, or your phone number written in Sharpie on a collar, and call you. No chip reader required. Bottom line – you need both!

  • Put a rescue alert sticker on the outside of your home, indicating how many and what kind of pets are inside so rescue workers can find them if you aren’t home. When an evacuation happens, you may be at work or just at the grocery store, but you may not have time to get home to your pets before the area is locked down and you WILL NOT be allowed to go in.

If you normally take your dog’s collar off when they’re just hanging out at home, you should consider keeping it on at all times during fire season. Cats require break-away collars for safety, and often lose them, but it’s worth giving it a try.

Evacuation Kit for Your Pets

You can build your kit now and keep it ready to go. Your kit should include:

  • Leash and sturdy crate. Make sure you have enough crates to safely move ALL of your animals, and that they are secure and won’t fall apart when you pick them up with your pets inside. Label your crates with your name and contact information, and your pets’ names and descriptions.

  • Medical records –keep a copy in your vehicle and a copy in your kit in case you have to send a friend or neighbor to get your pet out when you aren’t home.

  • Three days-worth of food and water, especially important if your pet is on a prescription diet.

  • Medications

  • Pet-safe first aid supplies

  • Food and water dishes

  • Blanket or other comfort item

Next Steps

  • Practice! Get your pets used to getting in their crates, so you’re not fighting that battle when the emergency comes and you have NO time to fool around.

  • Do a test run to see if you can really get everyone in the vehicle as planned. Make sure your crates all fit, and that you can get them in the vehicle by yourself. Do it in the dark! Yes, really. Our fire evacuations can come in the middle of the night.

  • Know where you’ll go. We will be posting further information on local emergency shelters, and how to get your animals to temporary foster homes, but if you can make a better plan, do it! That could be friends or family outside of the danger zone who are willing to take you and your pets in during an emergency. Going to emergency shelters often means that you go to one shelter and your pets go to another one, which is stressful for everyone.

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