Within the last week, 11 major wildfires have blazed across California. With the unusual increase in wildfires due to California’s bone-dry conditions, it’s crucial for families to have an emergency evacuation plan in place for not only themselves, but also their pets. In the heat of the moment, pet owners may overlook the key actions that will save their pet’s life if they don’t have a preconceived plan. Brad Kriser, pet expert and founder and CEO of Southern California-based Kriser’s, shares his advice on how to keep pets safe during a wildfire.
1. Prepare essential supplies: Having your pet’s daily necessities packed and ready to go in an easily accessible place is the first step. It is recommended to stock up on two weeks’ worth of supplies because wildfire disasters may last longer than a few days. Some necessary supplies include sealed pet food and water, a leash with a collar that includes an identification tag, pet medication, supplements and a portable pet carrier big enough to give your pet extra wiggle room. If possible, include your pet’s bed, calming doggie music, Rescue Remedy and toys to help reduce stress.
2. Research local boarding facilities and animal shelters: Don’t wait until the wildfire happens before you start finding local boarding facilities and animal shelters that will house your pet in the event of an emergency. Create a list of local pet boarding facilities and animal shelters along with their contact number and address. Also, if you’re staying at a local hotel, check in advance to see if they are pet friendly during emergency disasters.
3. Gather pet records: It’s important to have accessible copies of your pet’s medical records because many boarding facilities will require proof of up-to-date vaccinations as well as medical documentation. Another thing to have on hand is a recent photo of you and your pet together along with a detailed description of your pet, which will help others identify them in case you and your pet become separated and will also serve as proof of ownership.
4. Consider getting your pet microchipped: According to a study published in the American Veterinary Medical Association, microchipped dogs had a return-to-owner rate of 52 percent while cats had a return-to-owner rate of 38 percent, so microchipping your dog or cat will significantly increase the chance for you and your pet to be reunited during an emergency. Also, it is crucial for the microchip to be registered and up-to-date in the database so that people are able to contact the pets’ owners once found.
5. Know the signs of smoke inhalation: Even if the wildfire is not at your door step, the decrease in air quality in the surrounding areas can negatively affect your pet’s respiratory system. Some symptoms of smoke inhalation include coughing and wheezing. It is best to keep your pet indoors as much as possible and to continually observe your pet for any changes in behavior.
Be a good pet guardian and prepare in advance for emergencies.
Thank you to Brad Kriser for this list of tips.
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