Prepare ahead to evacuate pets safely in an emergency
As we begin what is normally our driest month, with average temperatures within a few degrees of the highest of the year, it seems appropriate to once again turn our attention to the very real threat of wildfires and disaster preparedness for you and your pets.
In our community, we're fortunate to have in place Animal Disaster Services (ADS), a volunteer group that coordinates with Emergency Management Services of Yavapai County. ADS exists to create and maintain a shelter for animals during times of natural disasters. In an emergency evacuation, ADS advises: "Take your animals with you! An emergency shelter will be announced once you are evacuated." This recommendation also sums up Yavapai Humane Society's position should an emergency evacuation become necessary. Saving the whole family, including the feathered, scaled, and four-legged members, should be the objective.
Each year, we experience natural disasters throughout our country that often result in the need to evacuate people and their pets from threatened locations. In Arizona, wildfires are the primary disaster that causes the greatest concern. It's a real threat, and it has happened close to home on many past occasions. Preparing for the possibility of an evacuation due to a wildfire makes good sense. It not only reduces stress, but can significantly reduce the chance of injury and possible loss of life for you and your family members, including your pets.
Let's review some preparations that will increase the chances that your pet(s) will remain unharmed if you must evacuate your home due to a wildfire. The Humane Society of the United States offers the following suggestions on what to include in your pet disaster kit:
Current ID attached to your pet(s).
Food, water and medicine for at least five days for each pet including bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned food.
Medical and veterinary records and a pet first aid kit including a pet first aid book.
Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect pets' waste.
Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand, turn around and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you are away from home.
Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated, and to prove that they are yours.
Pet beds and toys, if you can take them, to reduce stress.
Information about your pets' feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
A container to carry everything.
Making a solid plan now that includes your pets will reduce your anxiety about the welfare of your animals should it become necessary for you to evacuate as a result of a disaster. Also, it may enable you to avoid the heartbreak of losing a beloved family member.