How to Prepare Your Animals for Wildfires

by gabimaudiere | June 30, 2020 | Children's Books, Nature & Wildlife, On Our Radar

On the blog, author Emma Smith of the children’s book Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires shares her best tips for preparing your pets for wildfires. We’re so excited for her to share her expertise with us. 

Tubbs Fire, 2017

When the Tubbs Fire raced across Napa and Sonoma Counties in October 2017, many people were caught completely unaware. This was one of the first times in recent memory that a major wildfire had spread through small towns, suburban neighborhoods, and the rural landscapes linking them. As a result, many folks were not prepared to evacuate their larger pets, such as goats and horses. Even dogs and cats can be hard to handle in chaotic circumstances.

Since those tragic fires, wildfires have returned every summer to California, and folks are prepared. Here are some things you can do now, before a wildfire threatens your home, to make sure your animals will be safe.

Practice loading. Drill yourself and your animals in boarding the trailer as fast as possible. If animals are not familiar with the process, they may balk and refuse. For smaller pets, it’s also useful to get them used to being in a crate.

Have animals microchipped and with tags on their collars. In the event you are not able to evacuate an animal due to wildfires, it is crucial that they be identifiable, so that someone who finds them can contact you. Microchipping is a no-brainer; so is a old-fashioned dog tag. Shayla Teixira recalls that when two of her dogs escaped from the ranch in a panic during a wildfire, a neighbor found them and was able to call Shayla immediately because of their clearly-marked tags.

Identify animal-friendly hotels and evacuation centers. You may need to head straight to an evacuation center in the middle of the night. Be prepared with a name, location, and phone number. Be aware that not all evacuation centers accept pets.

Create an evacuation kit for your animals. Include blankets, emergency food and water (enough for a week), feeding bowls or buckets, copies of immunization or microchip records, and any necessary medication, individually bagged and labeled with animals’ names.

And in a worst case scenario… Jennifer Alvarez has a can of spray paint at the ready. If she is unable to evacuate her horses because of wildfires, she plans to spray paint her contact information on their sides and set them free.

Hopefully, it will not come to that. As Jennifer states, “Living with wildfires is terrible, but it is bearable if you take the time to prepare.”

Learn more by getting in touch with your local animal services department!