It’s Fall, and California is burning again. I lived in Southern California for many, many years — both of my dogs are from there — and when the Santa Ana winds blow, the fire will come.
I was watching Live Rescue on A&E last week, where they showed a teenage girl being evacuated as the fire advanced on her house. She was at her father’s house, and he was at work. She didn’t have a cell phone, as I believe her parents took it away for some infraction. Her mother had tried to reach the house but was blocked off by the fire crews. The teenager wanted to bring her three dogs with her, and she and the firefighter gave it a good try. But, the dogs were scared and she couldn’t get all their leashes on. One of the dogs bit the firefighter in his fear. They had to leave the dogs behind. Don’t worry — a neighbor came and got the dogs out of the house and loaded them up in his car until the father came and got them.
With fire, you don’t have a lot of time, plus your dogs may have to be evacuated by someone they don’t know, and they may be too scared to cooperate. This situation is not uncommon.
When rescues need rescue
A few days later, Dogster writer Audrey Pavia sent me some scary fire photos from the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center (formerly the Riverside Humane Society) located in Riverside, California, where she has volunteered. The fire broke out a 2 a.m. on October 31st and spread. The City of Riverside Fire Department worked quickly to contain the fire to keep it from reaching the pets in the adoption center.
Members of the community left their houses before dawn, helping the shelter recover by calming the dogs, dropping off food and water, putting together crates and moving furniture and pets. The security gate was damaged along with the fences, sprinklers and irrigation. After going through this emergency, the center reviewed its evacuation plan supplies. It sent out an email requesting help to refresh its disaster supplies, putting a callout for evacsaks and creating an Amazon emergency wish list, which is a great idea.
What can you do?
- If a fire breaks out in your community and there is even the possibility it could reach your home, evacuate your animals immediately. Particularly if you live in a place that fire is a possibility (like certain places in Southern California), ask a friend or relative if they can be your pets’ safe place in case of an evacuation.
- Have a pet emergency preparedness checklist/evacuation plan for pets and that every family member knows. Keep a pet go bag, filled with essentials in case you need to leave the house quickly.
- Put a pet rescue alert sticker on your front door or window to let firefighters know there are pets in the house. Keep leashes and harnesses in an easy access spot by the door so if the pets are evacuated by a stranger, they can find these things easily. Also, if you are away from home, close the doors in your house (to slow the fire and smoke from spreading), and keep your pets in a place where a firefighter can find them. Always keep collars with tags on your dog and microchip them.
- Pet proof the house. Use flameless candles, and prevent your dog from getting to the stove. I actually had a dog turn on the gas knob when he put his paws up on the counter. Cover exposed wires to keep dogs from chewing on them.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and regularly replace batteries. This is just good for everyone in house.
- If there is a fire at a rescue or shelter by you, they will need all hands on deck. Volunteer, drop off supplies or donate.
According to the Red Cross, nearly 1,000 home fires are started each year by pets, and according to protectamerica.com, more than 40,000 pets die from these house fires. This doesn’t take account of all the pets that die from wildfires. So keep yourself and your pet safe, be prepared and be alert.
Read more safety tips on Dogster.com:
Thumbnail image: All images courtesy of Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center and used with permission.