Emergency Fire Preparedness
BRING YOUR PET WITH YOU! Do not leave your pet behind, and expect someone to go into your house to rescue them. Fire Crews, Animal Control and Humane Society employees have very limited resources for rescuing pets. In addition, many Animal Control, Humane Society and rescue personnel will be set up at evacuation centers to help with the pets there, leaving nobody to canvas neighborhoods for pets left behind. Most volunteer organizations WILL NOT BE ALLOWED INTO NEIGHBORHOODS once they have been blocked by police. Even if you don't know where you're going to go, BRING YOUR PET, keep your cell phone with you and call the San Diego Animal Support Foundation, or anyone on your network, who can help you locate a pet-friendly evacuation center, hotel/motel or boarding facility. AS LONG AS YOUR PET IS WITH YOU, HELP CAN BE FOUND!
Safe Haven. If you do not want to stay in an evacuation center, have a plan for a safe haven for you and your pets. If your safe haven can't take pets, then have a plan to get your pets to their own safe haven, be it family, friends, or a boarding facility that is far from the evacuated area. Again, in Southern California, this is a yearly discussion you should have with someone to make sure you and your pets have a place to go. Don't wait until last minute to make these arrangements.
Rescue Alert Sticker: Because there may be an unexpected reason for not being able to get to your pet, or take them with you, post a rescue alert sticker which you can get from your local pet store. Post where readily visible, including number and types of pets, and veterinarian contact information.
We've learned a lot over the past years, and we saw the unexpected happen in the Wildfires of 2007, when it seemed all of Southern California was burning.
People who evacuated their animals to safe havens, quickly found out that even their safe havens weren't safe. It seemed as if they couldn't get far enough away from their homes. Most people who left pets behind, thinking they would be rescued, never saw their family pets again.
One of the things we learned from the fires is that a person with a cell phone, and a faraway friend on the other end with a computer and Internet connection can find almost anything they need...pet-friendly evacuation centers, hotels, motels, boarding facilities, news, etc.
We emphasize that the time to plan your family's evacuation (including pets) is not when the flames are visible from your home. The time to plan is NOW. Fire Season comes every year to Southern California, and your evacuation plan, including contact phone numbers and emergency supplies, should be checked and updated each year.
One of the best things about pet owners is the camaraderie they have for one another. "Dog people" will rush to the aid of any dog, "cat people" will do anything to help a cat, and as we found out in the 2007 wildfires, "livestock people" with a trailer know no limits when it comes to rescuing horses and livestock. (In 2007, hundreds of people with trailers from across the nation volunteered with the SDASF to evacuate livestock and other animals) So network with your neighborhood and get a yearly plan and call list together at the beginning of each fire season. It's not too late to get going on this right now!