Interesting article about pets sometimes being forgotten during evacuations........
As wildfires surge around the Los Angeles basin, pet owners need to take special care that their charges are safe. Most important is to take pets with you if you're evacuated, says Heather Case, the American Veterinary Medicine Association's coordinator of emergency preparedness and response.
"Everyone should be thinking 'How am I going to transport my pets?'" she says. "Take the order to evacuate seriously. Animals, because they're smaller than we are, are quite sensitive to smoke."
In past years during wildfires in California, animal e-mail lists "have gone crazy" but they're strangely silent this time, says Christie Keith, a contributing editor to the blog PetConnection.com. "It's been very different from previous fires where people had been clamoring for help with their pets," she says. "Maybe because it's such a more populated area people are following the evacuation orders. Or maybe five hours from now this is going to explode."
So best to be prepared. For cats, that includes having a carrier large enough to accommodate a temporary litter box, even a makeshift one that will work a few days, Case says. For dogs, leashes and collars are a must. Even the most well-behaved dog will need one in the confusion and excitement of an evacuation setting.
Identification for animals is crucial, in case they become separated from their owners. "Ideally, your pet is micro chipped," Case says. Failing that, some pet shops make tags while you wait. Owners in fire zones should think of including both their cell phone number and the number of someone well away from the fire area, should cell phone coverage break down or the pet's owner be unable to respond. With the Los Angeles fires threatening the Mt. Wilson communications hub, it's possible that cell phone service in the area could be disrupted, making local cell phone numbers unreliable.
For animals outside the evacuation areas, minimizing stress from smoke and the sound of helicopters, fire engines and general chaos is important.
"Shut down the noise as much as you can," suggests Ricky Whitman, spokesperson for the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA. Sometimes running the air conditioner helps to mask outside sounds, and cut down on the smoke smell. "Pay attention to your animals behaviors, because some animals are very sensitive and others don't seem to care quite so much," she says.
Several groups are offering to take in animals who need to be boarded during the fires. They include the Casitas Hotel for Cats in Glendale, which can only take cats, and the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, which is taking cats, dogs and some wildlife. The Kitty Liberation Front provides details on local shelters that are accepting both cats and dogs.
The Humane Society's national site has checklists and our earlier post details U.S. government's plans on how to evacuate animals.
By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY