Preparing for Wildfire Season in Nevada County – Week 11: Pet and animal evacuation preparedness

Our office kitty Harvy demonstrates situational awareness.

February 18, 2019 – Your emergency plan and preparedness includes everyone in your household and your pets – of course, they are part of the family.

The Pet Emergency Plan

Advertisement

Have your pet microchipped and keep the information up to date, especially your phone number. If possible, add contact info for an emergency contact outside your area.

Create a buddy system in case you’re not home and the area is being evacuated. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. If you live in an apartment, make sure your pets are on record with management and they are able to be evacuated using the stairs. Teach dogs how to go up and down stairs.

Have crates and pet carriers easily accessible for rapid evacuation.

If you are evacuating to a family member or friend’s home, make sure they are able to accommodate your pets.

Talk to your veterinarian and find out if they offer temporary boarding for pets in case of emergency.

Remain calm

Pets are used to your routine, practicing often by putting them in their respective crates and carrying them to the car will diminish their anxiety levels at the sudden change in environment.

Cats have a tendency to hide when their routine is disrupted or their acute sense of smell warns them of a fire. If possible, put your cat(s) in the bathroom, it will be (somewhat) easier to crate them in a smaller space. Wrapping the cat in a towel or in a pillow case if the feline is recalcitrant to enter the evac cage reportedly results in fewer claw marks.

Dogs and their fine noses might try to escape an onslaught of smoke, keep them on a leash if you don’t crate them before loading them to the car. Dogs can also become more protective of you during an emergency. Remain calm, it will reduce both your stress level and theirs.

Evacuation shelter for animals

The Nevada County Veterinary Disaster Response Team sets up at the Nevada County Fairgrounds to provide shelter for animals during disasters. Their website provides information on disaster preparedness and the volunteers have taken care of hundreds of animals during fires, floods and other disasters. You can take your animals to the Fairgrounds or the team will meet you at a roadblock. Find out more here or on their Facebook page. Other counties have similar organizations, check with your local OES office.

Pet Emergency Kit

Food and Medicine

  • 3-7 days’ worth of dry and canned food*
  • Two-week supply of medicine*
  • At least 7 days’ supply of water
  • Feeding dish and water bowl
  • Liquid dish soap

*Rotate and replace these items to ensure they don’t expire

First Aid Kit

  • Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage tape and scissors
  • Cotton bandage rolls
  • Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
  • Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
  • Latex gloves
  • Saline solution
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Tweezers

Sanitation

  • Litter, litter pan, and scoop (box with plastic bag works well for pan)
  • Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
  • Household chlorine beach or disinfectant

Important Documents

  • Identification papers including proof of ownership
  • Medical records and medication instructions
  • Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
  • Photo of your pet with you. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together helps document ownership and allows others to match you and your pet. Add species, breed, age, sex, color, distinguishing characteristics and don’t forget to add your pet’s name to the info.

Travel Supplies

  • Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
  • Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
  • Muzzle

Comfort Items

  • Favorite toys and treats
  • Extra blanket or familiar bedding

Equine evacuation kit

7-10 day supply of feed, supplements, and water
Bandannas (to use as blindfolds)
Batteries (flashlight, radio)
Blankets
Copies of veterinary records and proof of ownership
Duct tape
Emergency contact list
First aid kit
Flashlight
Fly spray
Grooming brushes
Heavy gloves (leather)
Hoof knife
Hoof nippers
Hoof pick
Hoof rasp
Diet: record the diet for your animals.
Medications: list each animal separately, and for each medication include the drug name, dose and frequency. Provide veterinary and pharmacy contact information for refills.
Knife (sharp, all-purpose)
Leg wraps and leg quilts
Maps of local area and alternate evacuation routes in addition to GPS (in case of road closures)
Non-nylon halters and leads (leather/cotton)
Paper towels
Plastic trash cans with lids (can be used to store water)
Radio (solar, hand cranked and/or battery operated)
Rope or lariat
Shovel
Tarpaulins
Trash bags
Twitch
Water buckets
Wire cutters

Download the “Saving the Whole Family” disaster preparedness list from the AVMA for more evacuation kits and plans for livestock, backyard poultry, reptiles and other small animals.

Wildfire smoke can be harmful to pets and livestock

Animals are equally, if not more, sensitive to smoke. When air quality advisories due to smoke are in effect, protect your pets and livestock. The easiest way to keep your pets safe is to keep them indoors.

Tips to Protect Pets

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke or particulate matter are present.
  • Let dogs and cats outside only for brief bathroom breaks if air quality alerts are in effect.
  • Avoid intense outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality. Exercise pets when dust and smoke has settled.
  • Have a pet evacuation kit ready, and include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning.

Tips to Protect Livestock

  • Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Especially don’t require animals to perform activities that substantively increase airflow into and out of the lungs.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
  • Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and sprinkling or misting the livestock holding area.
  • Plan to give livestock 4 to 6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing and compromise your animals’ performance.
  • Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. If you don’t have enough trailers to quickly transport all of your animals, contact neighbors, local haulers, farmers, producers, or other transportation providers to establish a network of reliable resources that can provide transportation in the event you need to evacuate your animals.
  • Good barn and field maintenance can reduce fire danger for horses and other livestock.  Make sure barns and other structures are stable, promptly remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around structures. [source: American Veterinary Medical Association]

Wildlife

If you are not in the immediate evacuation zone, put some water out for animals that may cross your property while trying to escape a wildfire. This is especially helpful when heavy smoke blankets the area.

If you evacuate, be prepared for wildlife crossing the road in an attempt to escape.

This concludes Week 11 of 25, next Monday we’ll provide tips to have your vehicle ready to go in an emergency.

Find previous stories in our special Ready for Fire Season section.