The devastating wildfires in Southern California have burned more than 100,000 acres across the region, putting the lives of both people and animals at risk.
As evacuations take place, authorities are urging pet parents to bring an emergency kit with the essentials. Los Angeles Animal Services recommends the following:
- One durable animal carrier displaying your name, address, and phone number for each animal in your household
- Pet food (make sure that all canned meals have peel tops and use by date should be checked)
- Bottled water (5 gallons per animal is ideal)
- Leash, harness, and collar
- Photocopies of medical and immunization records
- Recent photos of your pet (in case you need to create “lost” flyers or provide proof of ownership)
- Wet wipes
- Litter pan and cat litter
- Plastic bags
Pet parents should never leave their animals behind. Unfortunately, this happens far too often during natural disasters. If you and your pet are displaced, find out which hotels in your region are pet-friendly. If you have to leave without your pet, LA Animal Services advises pet parents to identify local boarding facilities in the area and make arrangements. The group also suggests having a plan in place with a neighbor, in case you are not home. Make sure your pet has proper identification.
Some shelters in the Los Angeles region are opening their doors to displaced pets and animals, while others, like the West Valley Shelter in Chatsworth, are trying to foster out current pets to make more space for animals.
Stories of people rescuing animals—including one heroic citizen who went out of his way to save a bunny, have been making headlines—but it's important to remember that you must be safe and smart about how to handle these situations.
If you see an animal in distress from the fires, only approach it if there is no risk of harm or injury for you or the animal, advises Ruby Castro, an animal care technician at the West Valley Shelter. If possible, try to keep the animal in a safe area and immediately call animal services to provide them with your location and the animal's condition.
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Read more: 5 Dangers of Smoke Inhalation for Pets