As the weather warms up and awareness about wildfire season comes to the forefront, the public is encouraged to help prepare their communities and their families – including their pets – for a potential emergency evacuation.
Just last year, the ASPCA deployed its disaster response team to help local agencies in California assist more than 2,500 animals displaced by the wildfires that devastated the state – including the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire – in what was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California.
ASPCA research has found that more than one-third of cat and dog owners don’t have a disaster preparedness plan in place, which is a startling number considering approximately 68 percent of households own a pet. The ASPCA is committed to raising awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness for pet owners to ensure they have the information and resources needed if a disaster strikes.
“The string of wildfires we saw burn through California in recent years displaced tens of thousands of people and put families at risk of being separated from their pets,” stated Dr. Dick Green, senior director of ASPCA Disaster Response. “Before disaster strikes, it’s critical for pet owners to prepare animals for a potential evacuation. The ASPCA urges pet owners to take time to build an emergency evacuation pack for their pets and practice an evacuation – we never know when a disaster might strike but preparing in advance can save lives.”
Here are some tips as to what pet owners can do now to prepare for an emergency evacuation:
Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification, should collars or tags become lost.
Create a portable pet emergency kit with items including medical records, water, water bowls, pet food and your pet’s medications.
Choose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone, who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable. In addition, make sure your dog crate has all of the necessary contact information someone might need if you are separated from your pet after evacuating. Place a piece of waterproof adhesive tape on the crate and write your name and phone number and your pet’s name.
The ASPCA urges pet owners to always bring their pet with them if they need to evacuate. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet. When evacuating with your pet, the most important thing you can do is ensure they are safely secured in a pet carrier and that you have handling equipment, including a collar and leash. This will help your pet from escaping and getting lost. It is also important to carry with you a photo of you and your pet. This way, if you are separated it will be easier to identify them and get them back home to you safely.