Don’t forget your pets when planning for disasters – Marin Independent Journal

It is now common – and depressing – to know that our region faces the risk of wildfire every year. Small wildfires like the recent one near Sausalito and Marin City can induce a sense of dread, even panic. The recent news of our beloved majestic giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove being seriously threatened by a wildfire was truly chilling and may leave us feeling helpless.

A great way to feel empowered in the face of uncertainty and threat is to ensure that you and your family, including your pets, are well prepared for disasters.

The best way to protect your pets is to put them in your plans before disaster strikes. A well-rehearsed emergency plan for you and your pets will not only reduce stress, but will also save you valuable time and lives.

How to prepare

• Make sure your pet has ID. A collar and identification tags must be worn at all times, and pets must be microchipped.

• Crate train your pet. You can train your pets by putting their favorite treat in the carrier and ringing a bell at the same time. Repeat the process every day until your pet comes running at the sound of the bell. The ability to quickly crate your pet is essential.

• If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed. They can escape through damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals left to fend for themselves are susceptible to exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Never leave them tied inside or outside the house.

• Evacuate early. Don’t wait for mandatory evacuation orders.

As part of your personal response plan and for your pet, prepare an emergency kit in a leak-proof plastic storage container that includes:

• Leashes

• Collars

• Identification labels

• Water and food

• Medicines and veterinary records

• Photos of your pet to prove ownership

lost animals

If your pet gets lost, immediately call or go to the nearest animal shelter or emergency command post. Post on social media and, when deemed safe, return to your neighborhood to post or distribute posters. Continue to search your area for your missing pet – a frightened animal can remain hidden for days. Set up a feeding station and place clothes with your scent nearby. Call neighbors or service workers such as letter carriers, police, fire department and PG&E workers for leads.

If you find a lost animal, notify your local animal shelter and provide a full description of the animal and its location. Remember that pets are much more likely to be reunited with their guardians if they are kept in the county where they are.

Finally, let’s remember that we’re all in this together, so share this information with others and consider contacting neighbors with pets if you think your neighborhood might be evacuated.

Pet Food Express, a longtime supporter of Marin Humane and other Bay Area shelters and rescues, recently launched a special section of its website devoted to disaster preparedness. Go to petfoodexpress.com/emergency-prep, marinhumane.org/disasterWhere firesafemarin.org for more important tips.

Let’s make sure our beloved pets are safe no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.

Lisa Bloch is Director of Marketing and Communications for Marin Humane, which contributes Tails of Marin articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about people and animals in our community. Go to marinhumane.orgfind us on social media @marinhumane or email lbloch@marinhumane.org.


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