NEW YORK, October 23 ” The Southern California fires have already displaced at least 500,000 residents and burned more than 1,000 homes. While the communities continue to blaze out of control, many residents in the path of danger wonder how to protect their animals. SPCA International announces these disaster evacuation recommendations for all animal guardians.
Have a plan. Long before a disaster, every pet parent and animal guardian should have an evacuation plan, for themselves and their pets. Talk to family and friends who can provide for your animals if you are in the path of danger. Simply planning ahead can save lives.
Always look for personal solutions and use the public services as a last resort. Always try to find an alternative to public services. During a disaster, animal shelters and other public services can quickly become overwhelmed with thousands of animals. Do your part to alleviate that pressure by finding personal solutions, if at all possible.
Locate pet-friendly lodging in or around your area. Invest the time now to find pet-friendly motels and hotels. Sometimes, these facilities waive their no pet policy for one or two smaller animals in times of disaster, but this is not certain. AAA publishes a book of all the pet-friendly lodging in the U.S.
Look for animal day-care facilities in the area. The Santa Ana winds are unpredictable and if you are in a potential path of danger SPCA recommends you do not leave your animal home alone for extended periods. If fire threatens your home while you are away your animals will have no means of escape. Law enforcement will not allow residents past roadblocks to retrieve a pet that was left behind. Leave your animal at a day-care facility, kennel or in the company of a person you trust.
Know what your local animal shelter is doing. In times of crisis and evacuation, follow the lead of the local animal organizations. Check with your local shelter to get their recommendations or learn of pet friendly evacuation facilities through your local news.
Network with family and friends. Friends and family are reliable resources that can give your animals a safe and familiar place to stay until they can return home. Having someone who is ready to provide for them can save you a lot of time and worry.
With no warning and no other option, let the animal go free. If fire is rapidly approaching your home and there is no time to safely evacuate, release your animals rather than leaving them confined. This will allow them to escape. Make sure the animal has a collar and tag with a cellular telephone number ” not the home phone number ” to help insure the animal is returned home.
Also, birds and horses are extremely susceptible to smoke. Even if your home is not being threatened by flames, smoke can be tremendously harmful. Place birds in enclosed rooms without many windows and keep horses in a barn to cut down on smoke inhalation.
“Be prepared. Practice makes perfect,” said Terri Crisp, SPCA’s Animal Resource and Rescue Consultant. “With a little planning and foresight, a lot of confusion can be eliminated and all family members can safely be removed from harm’s way.”