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Firewise: Preparing Your Pets for Evacuation in Wildfire

Firewise: Preparing Your Pets for Evacuation in Wildfire

When a wildfire moves into our Ken-Caryl neighborhood, the likelihood that you and your pets will remain safe can depend on the emergency planning that you do today. Owning pets adds responsibility for the safety of these animals.

Establish A Safe Place
In the event of a wildfire, Ken-Caryl residents may have to leave the home with their pets. Plan now for a safe evacuation with your pets. Pet owners have lost their lives when they refuse to evacuate their homes in a wildfire.

The next step in organizing an emergency preparedness plan is to find a safe place to take the family and pets. There are several other emergency shelter options for pets, such as staying in a hotel, boarding facility, or the home of friends or family – be sure shelter choice is outside the immediate living area. If hotels are preferred, keep a current list of hotels and motels that allow pets. Make a note of each hotel’s policy such as how many, size and type of pets. Keep a list of safe place(s) (hotels, boarding facilities or friends) along with phone number and pet policies in an emergency preparedness kit. Local animal shelters may be able to shelter pets in the case of an emergency. Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Establish a person to serve as an emergency contact that lives close to the home and is out of the immediate living area. The emergency contacts should be familiar with and have a list of pets and where they are located. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days. Make sure identification tags are up to date. Pets should wear collars with identification tags (to include owner’s name and phone) at all times. Identification by a microchip implanted by a veterinarian is also recommended. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.

Pet Emergency Kit
Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water.
• Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
• Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
• Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet requires on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
• First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol, and saline solution. Include a pet first-aid reference book.
• Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
• Important documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container.
• Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation, take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so.
• Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs.
• A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
• Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.
Plan in advance for pet care in the event of wildfire. Be prepared to assess the situation. Use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet’s safety during an emergency. Evacuation can be a hazardous and scary time for your pets. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

From the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Unit:
The Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Unit is responsible for coordinating animal evacuations and animal sheltering during an emergency.
Jefferson County Animal Response Team
The Animal Control Unit partners with groups of qualified community volunteers, known as the Jefferson Animal Control Rescue Team (J-CART) to accomplish the evacuation and sheltering of animals impacted by an emergency or disaster. J-CART works in conjunction with law enforcement, fire, emergency management and the Jefferson County Incident Management Team to safely and efficiently evacuate and shelter animals. Good planning includes having agreements with friends and family outside of your area where you can temporarily take your pets and livestock.

When you evacuate, take your pets and livestock with you. If you need assistance with pets and livestock, contact Jefferson County Animal Control at 303-271-5070 or via the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number of 303-277-0211.

If your neighborhood receives a pre-evacuation notice, consider leaving as soon as possible since animals, especially livestock, take a considerable amount of time to load up and transport.

If you are taking your animals to either the Jefferson County Fairgrounds or the Foothills Animal Shelter for temporary sheltering, please see the Jeffco Fairgrounds Animal Evacuation Instructions on the website below. Temporary emergency sheltering services are provided at no cost to animal owners. Due to limited space, sheltering services are only available for those households within pre-evacuation or evacuation areas. If you have questions or need additional information on Jefferson County’s Animal Emergency Evacuation Plan, please call 303-271-5070. For more information, visit http://jeffco.us/sheriff/emergencies/animal-evacuations/.

This article originally appeared in the April 5, 2017 Life at Ken-Caryl newspaper.

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