Prepare to Protect Pets during Wildfire Season

by Bonney Brown

Our animal friends live in the moment and it is one of their most charming qualities. It also makes them entirely dependent on us to look out for their well-being, especially in the event of a natural disaster. In this beautiful high-desert environment wildfire is the most common natural hazard we face.

While all of the usual preparations – such as maintaining defensible space by removing vegetation that is close to your home — are important, including animals in your family’s disaster plan can make a life or death difference for them. The FEMA website offers clear advice concerning pets: “If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind!”

Federal law requires that community emergency plans include pets; however, resources are usually stretched so thin during a disaster that we each need to have our own plan for evacuating with our pets.

If you have a friend or relative who will welcome you and your pets in the event of an evacuation that’s ideal, but there are also many pet-friendly hotels and pet boarding facilities.

At the very first sign of a wildfire or other potential disaster, bring dogs and cats indoors. Animals instinctively hide when they are frightened and you want to be able to find your pets quickly. Even a calm pet may panic and try to run away during an evacuation, so be sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness on hand for each of your pets. To receive emergency notification you can register your cell phone number or e-mail address online at and

Have identification on each animal in case you become separated. A tag on a collar is important, but a microchip is the most reliable identification for your pet. Be sure your current phone number is on the tag and on file with the microchip registry. Take a photo of each of your pets with your cell phone camera as proof of ownership.

Enlist a willing and trusted neighbor or friend to assist your pets in case you are not home when disaster strikes. This person should be familiar with your animals and have a key to your home.

Having a plan to safely evacuate your family, including your pets, will give you peace of mind and help ensure that everyone will be safe.

Upcoming Events that Help Animals

Adopt your very own Dog Vinci, Cattisse or Petcasso during the Reno is Petown adoption promotion at Nevada Humane Society. Cats: $10, dogs: $50, kittens (under 4 mos) $35 or two for $60. 2825 Longley Lane in Reno. Open Sunday – Friday, 11:00 am – 6:30 pm and Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:30 pm. More info at

Pawspective Art Show on July 13, 4:00 to 7:00 pm, at Nevada Humane Society featuring local art and crafts with nature and animals as the subject. Wine, appetizers, live music. Admission is free. Call 775-856-2000 for more info.


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