Originally Published: May 22, 2018 6 a.m.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Because fast-moving wildfires often result in evacuations, a northern Arizona organization has developed a plan for the evacuation of animals.
The Flagstaff-based Coconino Humane Association operates emergency animal shelters across the state. The shelters are places where people who have been evacuated by a wildfire can bring their horses, livestock and pets, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
With a trailer stocked with first-aid supplies, food for dogs and cats and various items to provide for the immediate care of a range of animals, the organization is ready to quickly respond when called, said Michelle Ryan, the association’s executive director. “We are part of the county emergency plan, so when there is a fire, they will activate our shelter and advise us where we’ll set up the emergency evacuation shelter,” Ryan said.
The organization set up a shelter in 2011 when a fire neared St. Johns in eastern Arizona. During that fire, Ryan and a colleague cared for about 250 horses, as well as a number of pigs, goats, sheep and llamas.
Ryan said people need to have an evacuation plan in place for their pets. For each pet, they should have a bag ready to go, containing the animal’s lease, medications, comfort items, food, water bowl and a photo of the pet. Animal owners also need a safe way to transport their animals to a shelter. “Every animal is going to be terrified,” Ryan said. “If you don’t have a crate, a box, even a pillow case is a great way to temporarily transport a cat.”
The animals also need collars with a current tag that has the owner’s cellphone number, Ryan said.
People should also know where to take their animals, like arranging shelter with friends or family or knowing locations of pet-friendly hotels, Ryan said.