Pets Start 1,000 House Fires Per Year — Who Knew?!

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day. Really! Believe it or not, some 1,000 of the nation's 500,000 house fires each year are caused by...


A curious food hound caused this damage in his kitchen. Don't let this happen to you!

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day. Really! Believe it or not, some 1,000 of the nation’s 500,000 house fires each year are caused by pets, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.

Alfie, who caused the fire in picture above, looks remorseful. All the poor guy wanted was a midnight snack, and he ended up scorching the entire kitchen.

Since it’s safe to say that most pets are not pyromaniacs at heart, what gives here? Last year, in Dog Daily News (the blog I put together before being recruited at Dogster), I wrote about a dog who accidentally turned on the griddle attachment to the stove, resulting in a fire that caused the damage in the photo above. The perpetrator, Alfie (on the left), probably only wanted a bit of bacon grease, and poof! The kitchen was toast.

The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces for the third annual National Pet Fire Safety Day to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires but more importantly how to prevent them. Here’s some info they’ve been sharing with the media. If Alfie’s people had read these tips, they might not be asking Alfie what it’s all about.

Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire, says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.

Chris and Kay Wardlow of Oklahoma know that all too well. Their curious dog Lucy was home alone and spied a cake on the stove top. As Lucy tried to get a taste, her paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. Within minutes, the house was filled with smoke, triggering the Wardlows ADT monitored smoke detector. Firefighters were called to the scene, the house was saved and Lucy was rescued.

Planning for unexpected emergencies like home fires and taking these precautions are an integral part of responsible pet ownership, Peterson said.

AKC and ADT offer the following tips to educate pet owners on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep your pets safe.

Prevent your pet from starting fires:

Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Beware of water bowls on wooden decks Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The suns rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

Keep your pets safe:

Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Consider using monitored smoke detectors — which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when youre not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.

Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to update the number of pets listed.

In partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council, pet owners can obtain a free Pet Fire Safety Window Cling on National Pet Fire Safety Day, July 15th at local volunteer firehouses nationwide. For a list of locations, visit this site. The clings are also free online and will be available this September at your local AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. This years flagship event will be held in Raleigh on September 25th. Check here for more information on an event near you.

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