Prepare Your Pets for Wildfire Evacuation

It’s wildfire season in California, and everyone should be prepared to evacuate their home if needed – but don’t forget Fluffy! The American Red Cross Los Angeles Region reminds pet owners that their furry friends are dependent on them for their safety during an emergency. Your disaster plans must include your pets, and below are steps you can take to help keep your beloved pets safe.

“The best way to protect your household from a disaster is to have a plan and making sure to include your pets can save time during an emergency and minimize confusion,” said Guillermo Sanchez, Preparedness and Resiliency Manager for the American Red Cross in Los Angeles. “We should plan for pets just like we would plan for people, set- ting aside emergency supplies and making sure we know a safe place to take our pets in case of an evacuation.”

When it’s not safe for you to be in your home, it’s not safe for your pets either. Make an evacuation plan that includes you, your loved ones and your pets. Many hotels and shelters do not accept animals, so plan ahead as to where you would take your pet. And, when you pack your disaster kit, assemble one for your pet too. Details about what to include are available here.

Include your pets in your disaster plan. Here are five things to consider:

1. Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate. Ask if no pet policies could be waived in an emergency. Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.

2. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency. Prepare a list with phone numbers.

3. Although your animals may be more comfortable together, be prepared to house them separately, if necessary.

4. Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.

5. Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up- to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease. Consider having your pet “microchipped” by your veterinarian.

Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers so that they can be carried easily.

• Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
• Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pets eats canned food.
• Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
• A first aid kit.
• Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
• Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

DOWNLOAD THE APPPet owners can down- load the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for veterinary advice for everyday pet emergencies at their fingertips. The free app features videos, quizzes and step-by-step advice on pet first aid and includes emergency preparedness information. Red Cross apps can be found in smart- phone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or going to