Advice for Protecting Pets from California Wildfire Disaster

Almost 20 million California households have pets at risk of harm during a disaster.

— Recent disasters and follow-up research have shown that proper
preparation and effective coordination of animal issues enhance the
ability of emergency personnel to protect both human and animal health
and safety.

— Ten to 25 percent of pet owners will fail to evacuate because of their
animals.

— Thirty to 50 percent of pet owners will leave pets behind, even with
advance notice of evacuation.  Many will return before it is safe or
“all clear” to rescue pets.

— Farmers and ranchers who depend upon animals for their livelihoods are
often unwilling to leave livestock unsupervised in the event of a
disaster.

— Plan Ahead:
— Pet owners should take steps to arrange for animals’ safety during
evacuation:
— Check with veterinarians for a list of preferred boarding kennels
and facilities.
— Be sure you have enough crates or other items to allow you to
transport all of your pets at the same time.
— Make sure your pets are wearing identification (tags, microchips,
etc.) that include your cell phone number or phone number of a
friend outside the area.
— Ask local animal shelters about emergency shelters or foster care
for pets.
— Identify pet-friendly hotels and motels outside of the immediate
area.
— Ask friends and relatives outside the disaster area to take in
evacuated pets.

— Get Ready:
— Emergency supplies and traveling kits should be kept updated and
handy, including:
— Pet first-aid and guide book
— Two week’s worth of your pet’s medications
— Copies of vaccination and medical records
— Canned (pop-top) or dry food and bottled water
— Feeding dishes
— Litter, disposable litter trays or paper toweling
— Extra leashes and collars
— Photos and descriptions of each pet
— Blanket (for covering and carrying a fearful pet)
— Carrier or sturdy traveling bag for each pet

— Minimize Evacuation Time:
— Store emergency kits and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
— Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a
disaster or severe storm.  Pets can become disoriented and wander
away from home during a crisis.
— Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make
arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at
the first sign of disaster.
— Ensure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date
identification.  Each pet’s ID tag should contain its name,
telephone number and any urgent medical needs.
— Microchip pet IDs provide a more permanent form of
identification.

The California Veterinary Medical Association has posted information about what to do to care for your pets in the event of a disaster and is gathering real-time information from its members in Southern California regarding the status of at risk pets and animals affected by the Southern California fires and needs to care for these pets.

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