The devastating wildfires that have swept through Arizona, New Mexico, and other regions of the U.S. this summer, have forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, as well as their cats, dogs, horses, and other cherished pets.
Animals are sentient beings that bring us boundless love, comfort and happiness, and the wildfires are a strong reminder that if we have pets, we need to have an emergency plan that includes their care. Here are a few ideas to get started.
1.) Identify several possible locations where you can take your animals if you have to evacuate. Veterinarians will sometimes take in pets, or there may be shelters in your area that are equipped to accept animals during an emergency. For health and space reasons, animals usually aren’t allowed in public emergency shelters.
2.) Create an emergency kit that includes the following:
- An extra supply of any medications your pets need
- An identification tag, extra collar and leash
- A copy of your pets’ medical records, including vaccinations, in a waterproof container. Most kennels won’t admit animals without proof of current rabies and other required shots.
- At least a week’s supply of water and food for your pets, including a water dish
- A favorite toy that can comfort your pet
- Plastic bags and other items for disposing of your pets’ waste
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost during the disaster. Make sure that you’ve included in the photos for proof of guardianship.
- A durable harness, crate, or carrier. Even if your pets normally roam free, they may be scared during an emergency and need to be safely transported in a carrier.
3.) Find a neighbor, friend, or relative who will agree to take care of your animals in the event that you’re unable to get home during an emergency. The person should be aware of any medical conditions and hiding places your pets may have, and have the contact information for your veterinarian.