The Thomas Fire, which has burned homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, reached 88 percent containment as of 12.26.17, after charring over 280,000 acres, according to abc News. Cal Fire statistics label the Thomas Fire as the largest California wildfire in modern history.

If you aren’t in the middle of a fire or another emergency, now is the time to prepare yourself and your pet for the next emergency. Studies show that only one-third of cat and dog owners have a disaster preparedness plan in place. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) urges pet owners to develop an emergency plan in advance to keep their families and pets safe.

Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response says: “It doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can be hit with a natural or man-made disaster. When you’re in the moment, it can be very stressful for you and your pets. Having a plan in place ahead of time can save you precious time and energy, so you can focus on quickly getting you and your pets to safety.” For pet owners who do have an emergency plan in place, the ASPCA’s national study found that an overwhelming majority (85 percent of dog owners; 81 percent of cat owners) intend to bring their pets with them in the event of an evacuation. Rickey agrees: “If officials order an evacuation, you should take your pets with you. If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pets.”

The secret for your pet’s survival during one of these natural disasters is to be as prepared as possible before disaster strikes. By being organized and ready for a disaster, you will greatly increase you and your pet’s chance of survival.

Find a secure location ahead of time:

Evacuation shelters rarely accept pets, so you need to plan ahead to make sure your family and pets will have a safe place to take refuge before a disaster strikes. In some hotels, if there is a no-pet policy, it may be waived in the event of an emergency. You should also compile a list of boarding facilities (including veterinary offices and animal shelters) that might be able to shelter animals in the event of an emergency. For a listing of pet friendly hotels, go to: pet friendly hotels

Bring your pet with you when you evacuate:

The most important decision you make during a disaster is to take your pet with you. Animals left to fend for themselves can easily be injured, lost or killed due to exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.

In addition to natural disasters, you should be prepared for everyday emergencies:

Make sure you know who will check on your cat or dog, feed them and give any medications necessary if you find yourself unexpectedly away due to an accident or other family emergency. Find a dependent neighbor and make sure they have access to your house. You’ll want to introduce your neighbor to your pet beforehand to ensure familiarity. If evacuation is necessary while you’re away, be certain your neighbor is willing to rescue your pet.

Checklist for Pet Emergency Supplies:

  • Bottled water, food and any medications needed for 5-7 days

  • Current identification (name, cell phone, address) fastened to your pet’s collar

  • Pet carrier, blanket, leash and harness

  • Disposable litter box and litter if you have cats or rabbits

  • Animal first aid kit – available for all different species at pet first aid

  • Photos of your pet in the event they get separated from you

  • A copy of your pet’s veterinary records, along with your veterinarian’s phone number

  • Phone number and directions to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital (the 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in Santa Barbara is VCA Care Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital at 301 E. Haley Street, 805-246-1086).

  • A list of places to take refuge with your pet. For a listing of pet friendly hotels, go to: pet friendly hotels

  • You should also have an emergency rescue sticker placed on the front and back door of your home in the event that you’re separated from your pet. The ASPCA offers free emergency stickers here: free pet safety sticker

The fires in Santa Barbara once again remind us that you can never be too prepared for a disaster. Get yourself and your pet ready now, in case an emergency strikes tomorrow.


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