By Jennifer Brehler, HSS Executive Director
May 13, 2022
The early start of fire season with the Tunnel and Crooks Fires has brought worry of increased fire conditions, dangers and a longer fire season here in northern Arizona. The news coverage of these two fires and the current focus of the Sedona Fire, Police and the City of Sedona, as well as Fire Districts, Police Departments and City leaders throughout Verde Valley is heightening our community’s awareness to fire prevention, preparedness and evacuation. The Humane Society of Sedona wants to also remind everyone when preparing for yourself, please do not forget to prepare for your animals, including horses and other livestock. As families in Flagstaff experienced recently there was little to no time to evacuate as fires start anywhere, at any time and with high winds the rate of spread is unimaginable. Planning cannot begin after a fire starts, we must plan and be prepared now to be able to act immediately to keep ourselves, our animals and our community safe. As we have seen, our communities, homes and our animals can be in harms way in an instant.
During a ‘Set’ and especially a ‘Go’ evacuation order for your area the most important thing you can do to keep yourself, your animals and first responders safe is to evacuate early with your animals. Do not leave your animals behind or set them free. Leaving animals at home places them in extreme danger during a fire and setting them loose increases the risk to them, as well as to first responders and others evacuating on roadways with limited visibility unable to see or avoid an animal in the road.
Although it is important to have all supplies for your animals and to know where you can go in the event of a fire evacuation, transportation is the most critical need for you and your animals to evacuate safely. Unfortunately, it is all too common that pet and livestock owners overlook transportation needs that will get them to a safe place. For transporting companion animals and small livestock such as chickens, and small goats, be prepared with assembled cat or dog plastic airline or metal crates, able to fit in your vehicle(s) and stored in an easily accessible place before an emergency ever strikes. For larger livestock and horses having trucks and trailers available on the property that can haul them is the only way to be sure your animals will be evacuated to a safe place. If you do not have these vehicles available, it is important to have a plan in place ahead of an emergency with a neighbor who may be able to help move your animals to safety. Keep in mind many roads will be closed and arrangements made for transportation coming from outside your immediate neighbors may not be able to make it to your home. You can find more information for large animal evacuation from Equine Emergency Evacuation (EEE) at www.eeeyc.org.
While evacuated from your home you will want to have supplies for all members of your household, to include your animals. Although, emergency response situations include partnerships with local animal organizations like the Humane Society of Sedona, it is important to have an emergency supply kit for your animals. Your animal’s supply kit should be stored in an accessible place and in a sturdy, portable container such as a plastic bin, or a duffle type bag for easy transport. The Humane Society of Sedona recommends at a minimum you have the following prepared for each animal:
- Medications and a copy of your animal’s medical records that include any current medical conditions and vaccinations along with the contact information of your animal’s Veterinarian.
- Photo and written description of your animal in case they become lost during the evacuation and your contact information as well as an emergency contact.
- A weeks supply of your animal’s food, treats and potable water in sealed containers with expiration dates.
- Information on your pets feeding schedule such as amount and times and any behaviors your pet may exhibit, such as fear, disliking other animals, etc. Ideally you and your animals will stay together, however if your animal needs to be in a foster home or boarding facility and you are separated this will help to ensure your animal receives what they need.
- Portable food and water bowls, cat litter and litter box.
- Leashes, collar/harness with an ID tag including yours and an emergency contact’s current cell phone number placed on your pet.
- Carrier/crate assembled and ready to use for transportation.
- Pet beds and/or toys (small portable items to help comfort your animal).
- Sign to place on your most visible door/window that states you have evacuated with your animals and a way to affix the sign.
One last thing about supplies, you should check your emergency supply kit at least monthly to cycle through the food and medications keeping items fresh and do not store this kit outdoors or in a storage area that becomes hot as this may spoil the food and medications. Checking monthly will also keep preparedness top of mind and help to remind you to update your pet’s medical records and your contact information if needed.