Picture this scenario: a wildfire erupts within hazardous proximity to your neighborhood and the rest of your family are advised to evacuate immediately. But you also have a dog or three as part of your household. The question is; are you prepared for their safe evacuation as well?
Any respecting dog owner will not think twice about taking their pets with them in case of forced evacuation. You must be well aware that pets abandoned in disaster-affected areas are ill-equipped to survive by themselves. And post-disaster it might be difficult for them to reunite with their humans. This is why if you are a dog owner, your pet’s safety should always factor in when it comes to disaster preparedness measures you subscribe to.
Here is everything you need to know about safeguarding your dog in times of natural disasters such as a wildfire.
Pet Emergency Kit
Keeping pet emergency preparedness supplies at hand goes a long way. In case of a wildfire, here are the stuff you need in your pet emergency kit.
Dog tag preferably with your contact details
Your vet’s contact details
Your pet’s most current photo
Collar, preferably with updated tag details)
7-day food supply in waterproof container
List of feeding schedule/routine and other behavioral considerations/specifics
Water bowls and portable food
Canned food and can opener
Dog first aid supplies
Dog waste bags
Tick & flea prevention supplies
Dog litter, scoop and litter box
Emergency Dog Shelter
Not all emergency relief housing will readily welcome your dog. This is due to concerns in relation to public health. For disaster evacuees with pets in tow, the best alternative is to stay in pet-friendly hotels. There are many companies that can be considered pet-friendly and you can easily find them online. Keep a list of these facilities, which are closest to your area. These places are most suited to dog owners whose pets cannot be separated from them. Such as in the cases of guide dogs, senior dogs, or service animals.
Another housing alternative is pet hotels. These places will offer the same level of care you provide your dog. Their trained staff can feed and walk your dog, and even administer medications if necessary.
After the wildfire
Post-disaster will be a tough time for your dog. Scents, landmarks, and comforts that were familiar to them may have been compromised or totally eradicated in the course of the disaster. This scenario can trigger stress, anxiety, and general disorientation in your dog. During these times they will have a heightened need for the sense of comfort and calm you bring to their life.
To keep your dog safe in their altered surrounding, make sure to not let them roam freely and alone immediately after the disaster. It is in your interest to first conduct a thorough survey of the area to ascertain if there are risk factors that need to be eliminated, such as downed power lines or other debris.
Here are helpful resources you can consult for your pet preparedness initiatives:
PetMD Pet Emergency Preparedness
Pet Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency
Emergency Preparedness for Birds, Reptiles, Small Animals & Horses
The American Red Cross