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Staying Fire Safe: Making a Plan for your Animal Companions

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My phone rang at midnight. The Sheriff’s Department mandated I evacuate due to a nearby fire. Terrified, I fled to my parents with my daughter, dogs, cat, important documents, and some clothes. The fire moved in the opposite direction and leveled 13 homes. 

That was in October 2017. For years, the California fire season occurred June-August. With climate change spurring years long droughts, fires are probable May – December. This year, two large California fires burned in January! They tend to burn longer and larger. 

If you live in California or in areas impacted by weather events like hurricanes, do you have a plan in place for evacuation? Now is a good time to get one together! 

Your Check-list

Your Animal Go-Bag

Set up in a designated area of house, garage, or barn for easy access. We recommend printing out your evacuation route, sites of evacuations, and important numbers for family, friends, veterinarians, evacuation sites, and emergency personnel and keep them in your glove compartment. 

Food & Water: 

  • 3 days worth in a plastic or metal container. Label, as needed. For larger animals, keep hay/food in trailers (in rodent proof bins).

Medications

  • Label and store 3 days worth OR make sure bottles are accessible for evacuation

Transport

  • Extra collars, halters & leashes in go bag
  • Crates (we highly recommend confining your felines for transport)
    • There are transport carriers commercially available for animals like fishes, birds,  reptiles, and small mammals (guinea pig, mice, rats, etc). 
  • Trailer accessible for load-up

If transport for some animals is not available, work now to get a list of volunteers who can come and trailer or transport your animals

Identification

  • Identification tag, microchip, and collar for your smaller domestic animals
  • For larger animals, use animal-safe chalk/spray paint and place your number on the animal. 

Cannot evacuate some or all of your animals?

  • Notify emergency personnel, who may be able to make emergency access. Follow their instructions.
  • If emergency personnel cannot come and fire is imminent, release who you can. Open pasture gates, doors, and windows to offer a means of escape. 
  • Do your best to identify your animals with id tags or animal-safe chalk. 
  • Spray down your home, trees, and as much pasture as possible with water. 

Written by Marji Beach, Director of Fund Development